Showing posts with label Seniors. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Seniors. Show all posts

How to Lower Winter Heating Bills and Save Money

Lowering winter heating costs is easier than you think.

The older space heater next to the bed.
Nichrome wire.

The Basics

For starters, I just turn the gas furnace off for the night. And I turn the thing off for the rest of the day around mid-morning. And it usually stays off until I get up next morning.

How do I do that and remain comfortable? Sweatpants. T-shirt. And a sweatshirt over the t-shirt. And slippers. Totally comfortable. And a knit cap certainly helps, but I seldom bother with that.

Turning the heat completely off at night works just fine for the fall and early winter seasons. But what about when it starts getting really cold, like in the 20s and 30s? The furnace stays off, but I put a nichrome wire space heater in the bedroom with the switch reachable from the bed. When I wake up and there is just no way I'm going to face that cold, I turn on the space heater. Two seconds later, it is blasting away. Perfect for getting dressed in front of the thing. And I've saved an entire night’s heating costs. I get up, get dressed, turn off that particular space heater for the day and turn on the furnace.

Another Tip for the Really Cold Days

Got a home office or other place where you hang out 90% of the time? Putting a space heater there is a lot cheaper than heating the whole house or apartment. At minimum, the furnace thermostat can be set much lower than would normally be the case.

Caveats

This only works for singles and couples. If you've got kids in other bedrooms, the above method is not a viable option. And another note. If you live where freezing indoor water pipes are a concern, probably also best not to do as described here. For that matter, even though when only a single or couple, the coldness may reach a point where turning the furnace completely off isn't a viable option for other reasons; however, one will still be able to set the thermostat much lower than when not using the bedside space heater morning trick.

More About Space Heaters

Needless to say, judicious use is best; otherwise the electric bill increase will offset the gas furnace bill decrease. Surprisingly, I was able to get away with the 750 watt setting most of the time; one really does want to avoid the 1500 watt setting whenever possible. I also frequently turned the thing off altogether; and I certainly turned it off whenever leaving the area, even if only for a few minutes.

On a personal note, I made it a point to not plug the thing into the same circuit as the computer, peripherals, etc; but that's just me; what with the constant 750 watt surges coming and going all the time, the delicate electronics probably wouldn't appreciate that.

And, yes. Space heaters are dangerous. Definitely obey the page full of warnings included with the unit.

Final Notes

There's the old adage about keeping the drapes closed, but personally I want whatever sunlight there happens to be. However, it's certainly not a bad idea to keep the drapes closed in those rooms you seldom frequent.

And there's the weather sealing. Feel a cold draft or stream of air coming from somewhere? Find the source. Describe it at the hardware store. They'll be more than happy to tell you exactly what you need to fix it and will give advice on how to install it. If it's at the bottom of a seldom used door, you can at least cover it with an old towel.

Come to think of it, are there any seldom-used rooms where you can simply close the vents and possibly the door? That will cause the gas furnace to heat the remaining rooms more efficiently. Don't close too many vents; that will cause the furnace fan motor to work harder than it should. And for the same reason, there's the usual cleaning or replacing the filters.

The newer space heater I put under the home office desk.
Ceramic.

Help with Medical Bills Federal and State Websites

These websites will actually help you when a medical entity victimizes you with inflated or outright fraudulent medical bills and/or denied insurance claims.

This includes hospitals, general doctors, specialists, X-ray places, CT scan or PET scan centers, blood test places, and pretty much any other medical facility or entity that engages in illegal or unethical conduct. Emphasis is on illegal, unethical contracts and on illegal, unethical billing practices. Also includes resources regarding insurance company misconduct or for when a Medicare, Medicaid, or Medi-Cal case worker makes a mistake or acts in bad faith. Sooner or later, you will need the information on this page.

Medical Federal and California (and other) State Government Websites That Will Help You When an Insurance Company or Service Provider Victimizes You – Also Some Worthwhile Additional Information


Patients Rights Help and Support Resource List

A list of resources regarding the rights patients are legally supposed to have. Many provide complaint forms and will actually help you. All listed websites are government or other well-known, reputable resources. All links go directly to the website's patients rights page and/or patients help page.
  • MedlinePlus, from the U.S. Library of National Medicine.
  • HealthCare.gov, your rights under the Affordable Care Act.
  • Medicare.gov, your Medicare rights.
  • The Medicare Beneficiary Ombudsman. , a resource for filing complaints, grievances, appeals, etc.; in other words, a place to rat out medical service providers. The page also promises to provide information, help, assistance, and other services. The page is apparently also the starting point for when you need to deal with Medicare's own shenanigans.
  • CMS.gov, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The particular link I provided has to do with Consumer Information & Insurance Oversight. The page may not especially look it, but these guys are your friend. Sometimes, out of the blue and without any action on your part, they will send you notices a particular medical bill from a medical service provider or insurance entity is not valid and that you don't have to pay it. This website is definitely worth prowling around when you have the time.
  • California Department of Public Health (CDPH), the go-to page for filing medical complaints in California.
  • Office of the Patient Advocate (OPA), another go-to page for filing medical complaints in California.
  • CDSS is another California site that my be able to help you, especially as applies to local office Medi-Cal screw-ups.
  • Google. For folks not in California, simply do a search for:
    "YourStateNameHere patients rights site:.gov" (without the quotes and be sure to include the exact "site:.gov" syntax).
If a link suddenly stops working, it means the website moved that particular page. Let me know in the comments section and I'll find and post the new location.

Some Tips for When Dealing with the Medical Bureaucracy

  • The Medicare 1-800-633-4227 number is open 24/7. They have always been friendly, professional, and helpful.
  • Referring doctors make paperwork mistakes all the time. Whenever possible make sure the medical treatment specifications match what the Medicare white book says. This is mostly applicable to preventive services. Not kidding here, make sure the doctor's instructions exactly match what the white book specifies. I've personally saved myself one financial disaster already by doing this.
  • Never walk into a medical service provider's diagnostic center without the proper Medicare COPD 5-digit code included on the referral paperwork. 
  • Referring doctors make paperwork mistakes all the time (did I mention that already?). Always call the Medicare number first and verify the accuracy of the Medicare code on the paperwork before going to the specialist's or medical service provider's office. Confirm with Medicare that the Medicare code number is valid for your circumstances and procedure(s) and that Medicare will approve and pay for the procedure.
  • When referred to a specialist, sometimes a COPD code isn't provided; the specialist adds the code after the fact. Your only defense against this is having diagnostic information showing the necessity of the visit to the specialist, e.g., CAT scan shows potential malignancies in lungs, thus being referred to a pulmonologist makes medical sense. If the specialists uses the wrong code(s) after the fact and the claim is denied, don't just give up. Work with Medicare and the specialist to get the mistake straightened out and resubmit the claim.
  • The referring doctor does not not always know if the referred specialist or medical service provider takes Medicare, Medicaid, Medi-Cal, etc. When you walk into that referred specialist's office or medical service center for the first time and have identified yourself, always ask first:
  1. Does Medicare accept you and do you accept Medicare as full payment, secondary insurance covering remaining balance?
  2. Does Medicaid//Medi-Cal/Etc. accept you and do you accept Medicaid, Medi-Cal, etc. or whatever other supporting insurance applicable in your situation as full payment?
If any part of their answer is no, leave immediately. As a Medicare beneficiary, you have the right to go to any Medicare specialist or service provider center you wish. Tell your primary, referring doctor what happened and they'll take care of it.

An important note. If a medical entity financially victimizes you or is trying to victimize you happens to be a referral from your doctor, first check with Medicare via their website and/or phone calls and find out exactly what is going on. If that doesn't clarify or fix the situation, then tell your doctor's office all about it. They might be able to fix the problem with just one phone call to the offending medical entity; not so surprisingly, your doctor's office will often be quite successful at this.

A personal note. That medical contract you are always forced to sign is basically a blank check allowing the medical entity to do whatever they want. You've given them the right to do anything and everything their hearts desire and then to bill you for whatever insurance doesn't cover. For that reason, I always print directly above my signature the following in caps:

"ONLY PROVIDE INSURANCE COVERED SERVICES ONLY"

If the medical service provider then refuses you as a patient, immediately inform your primary physician that referred you. If that doesn't solve the problem, i.e., your doctor being able to find a different service provider in the area; I'd personally let Medicare, Medicaid/Medi-Cal, and any other involved insurance/government entity know all about it. I would think they would all want to know about a medical service provider that turns away patients simply because that patient only wants those services that are covered by insurance. Who knows? They might even be able to help you.

An update (Medical Hack(?)). Someone sent me this. I do not know if it is true or not. It sure would be interesting to find out:


I'm continuing to look for other government medical websites that help patients when it comes to money issues. If you happen to know of one, please mention it in comments. I'll be happy to include it on the list. Federal sites are preferred, but sites specific to your state are also welcome.

Body Donation Process and Free Cremation

Here is what happens when you donate a body to medicine, science, industry, research.
Rule Number One for Caregiver: Have Choices Made and Everything Done Before Occurrence.
This page is not for everyone. It serves up the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. And it is not gentle about it. Here is what happens and how to donate a body to get a free cremation.


How to Get a Free Cremation by Making a Whole Body Donation

There is a fairly new industry now in existence. It is the business of whole body donations. This is an information article for anyone who is considering making a whole body donation of either themselves or of a loved one. It is the industry standard a whole body donation entitles the donor to free cremation, free transportation, and generally free everything else relating to the cremation.

Overview of the Body Donation Industry

It is illegal for you to sell your body or that of a loved one. However, if you make a whole body donation; the company will pay all transportation costs, the cremation fee, the cost of the urn, and all other incidental costs. This is the industry standard, but each company may be different; so it is imperative to read the contract to be sure.

The company will work with one or more local funeral homes. The funeral home will pick up and transport the body. The company will make all the arrangements. Once the body is at the funeral home, the company will make a final determination as to whether to accept it. If they decide to accept it, the body will then be transported to the company's facilities; often this will be in another state. After one to two months, the remains will be cremated and per your instructions, returned to you or scattered at sea.

If the company rejects the body at time of death, the body stays at whatever funeral home the company happened to have selected. You are then liable for whatever the funeral home wishes to charge you for the transportation costs, cremation costs, etc. This seldom happens; each whole-body-donation company has their own rules; so be sure to read the contract.

Not Just Organ Donation: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

The company will inform you the donation of your body or that of a loved one will contribute to the causes of science, education and research. In actuality this means the body or its various parts can and will be used for practically anything. You are not allowed to restrict how the body of you or your loved one may be used.

Once your body or the body of your loved one is at the company's main facility, the sales frenzy begins. Although it is illegal to sell a body or any of its parts, the whole-body-donation companies have found a way around this. As an example, suppose the company gets an order from a customer for a liver; the company will donate the liver, but will charge fees for everything related to it; such as extraction, preparation, and transportation.

First and foremost is the use of dead body parts to cure and heal the living. This is not the usual harvesting of organs immediately after death. Cadaver materials such as skin and bones can be processed into products and materials which are sold to hospitals to treat patients.

The next best scenario is when the cadaver's organs and tissues are harvested and sent to various institutions for medical research. This is the image most of us picture and is indeed many times the case.

However, the company has many different customers and many different types of sales orders.
  • Medical teaching facilities, especially colleges and universities, are steady customers of whole-body-donation companies. Your body or that of your loved one may very well end up at one of these institutions. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Contributing to the education of future doctors and researchers is always a worthy cause. It is possible, however, you or your loved one may end up as the guest of honor at a frat party. Another less pleasant scenario is when the body is chosen as a semester-long project. This is where the body lays on a table for a few months and is gradually cut and picked apart piece by piece; usually rock music will be playing in the background as the students crack jokes.
  • The United States Military is an avid customer of whole-body-donation companies. The military likes to use the bodies for researching and testing their new protective gear. You or your loved one may also be used to test the destructive attributes of new ammunition or explosives. No doubt other government agencies are also customers. One can only speculate as to which agencies and what the bodies or their various parts are used for.
  • Many non-medical biotechnology and other companies are also regular customers of the whole-body-donation industry.
  • Believe it or not, most of the above scenarios do not cause people to reject the idea of whole body donation. However this last scenario does seem to be a deal-breaker for many people. It has to do with the following sentence you will find in the Donor Consent Form Contract: “I am consenting the body to potential segmentation and disarticulation”. In other words, the company rips the body apart; piece by piece and day after day. Here is a typical scenario: Minnesota orders an arm; it is removed and sent. Next day Nevada orders a leg; it is done. Sooner or later the inevitable order for a head floats in; off it goes. Soon all that remains is the torso (probably minus the organs). This is not the image of a loved one many people want to carry around for the rest of their lives.

Whole Body Donations and Free Cremations

The Hopeful Future

The Future Is Now...?

The purchasing company can do anything they want with the body, but as the industry matures it is hoped someday you will have the right to specify the fate of yourself or your loved one. Hopefully, the time could be soon. In fact, since the industry has been around for awhile; it could literally happen any day now. Be sure to ask what options are available and if there are any restrictions you can impose. Do not take anyone's word for anything. Ask for the contract. Inform the salesperson you will read it and get back to them. If they try to make excuses or otherwise object, then probably do not consider that company as one of your possible choices.

Rule Number One for Caregiver: Have Choices Made and Everything Done Before Occurrence.*

*This is the voice of experience talking. Then when the time comes and depending on circumstances, you will then only be faced with having to make that phone call; everything else will then be automatically taken care of.

And as a hospice worker told me the following day: when your body wants to cry, let it. And she was not just talking about that day, but future days and weeks as well. When your body wants to cry, let it. Don't fight it, just let it. And do not care if other people happen to be around at the time. The less you fight it, the sooner you will heal.

Medical Service Provider Corruption - Patients Forced to Sign SWAG Medical Contracts Under Duress

[This page was originally entitled "Medical Imaging and Diagnostic Centers Saying Medicare Part B Reneges on Paying for Preventative Services" and was about a local incident. The page has since been expanded to address other local incidents and as they relate to the national issue. Bottom of the page has a list of government bookmarks for helping patients deal with unethical medical conduct. Page may occasionally be updated as more information comes to light.

The problem is the medical service provider is trying to
make the patient responsible for Medicare's conduct.

October 13, 2016 (first local incident)

Per doctor's written instructions, I went to an imaging/diagnostic center (name temporarily redacted) for chest/lung X-rays. I had been to this place before a couple years ago and there hadn't been any problems.

As with most medical service providers, I was first directed to the Hallowed Contract Signing Room. And there is where everything fell apart...

They placed a contract in front of me that basically said (paraphrasing):
  • We will take the X-rays.
  • We will bill Medicare.
  • Medicare will then decide if the X-rays were medically necessary or not.
  • If Medicare unilaterally decides the X-rays were not necessary and refuses to pay, then you must pay instead.
  • If you refuse to sign this contract, we will refuse to do the X-rays your doctor ordered.
In other words, the imaging/diagnostic center is claiming:
  • That Medicare no longer considers a doctor's word or judgement good enough.
  • That Medicare sometimes reneges on payments and that I am supposed to protect the imaging/diagnostic center from this by agreeing to pay them myself in such cases.

I felt sympathy for the woman at the desk, I knew she was just following orders.

So, is this a Medicare issue or is this an imaging/diagnostic centers issue? Or maybe it is only this one service provider that is pulling this stunt and Medicare is being falsely accused? [Incident is sorted out in next section.]

As a side note, I asked for a copy of the contract to show the doctor as to why I didn't get the X-rays and the imaging/diagnostic center flatly refused.

October 27, 2016 (second local incident)

Per doctor's written instructions, I went to a local blood lab (name temporarily redacted) this morning. While in the back room, they came in with a contract saying certain medical codes were missing and I would have to agree to pay for what Medicare wouldn't pay because of the missing codes. I declined, at which point they said they would contact the referring doctor's office and get the codes.

They then came back and said they had got the codes and proceeded to take my blood. I never had to sign anything and all appeared well.

When I got home, it occurred to me to call the doc's office to see if the blood lab really did call them and get the codes.The Doc's Office Said They Never Received Any Such Call. They further said they would look into and deal with it, and that I would not be responsible for any bills.

I'll wait to see how this sorts out before acting further. I never signed or agreed to anything. So if I do receive any sort of bill, I will perceive it as attempted fraud on the part of the blood lab and will indeed name names, unlike my still withholding the name of the imaging/diagnostic center.

When I first reported about this second incident, I received input from others stating such things as...
  • They have been nothing but trouble for people with Medicare or PPO health insurance.
  •  Credit card numbers demanded in advance before agreeing to do blood work.
  • Collection agencies being used on unwarranted/disputed bills.
This incident is considerably worse than the first incident, in fact it makes the first incident pale by comparison. I'm waiting to see how my situation turns out before acting accordingly.

November 15, 2016 update: still no bill received.

Early November, 2016 (third local incident)

Per doc's referral, I went to an eye doctor place (name temporarily redacted) and made an appointment. After making the appointment, I then perused their frames selection. The prices were literally double to triple the prices that can be found elsewhere, presumably the lens prices would be equally exorbitant.

The place was packed with patients/customers, noticing that caused me conflicted emotions...
  • On the one hand, I am pro capitalism. If a business entity discovers an unending supply of customers who voluntarily pay double to triple the going rate for a product or service, then you really can't fault the business entity for taking advantage of that.
  • On the other hand, pretty much all the patients/customers there were extremely old people who just plain no longer apparently had the mental faculties to know any better or the ability to  realize what was going on. I'm not an attorney, but this could easily be perceived as a case for elder abuse. Most insurance does not pay for frames and lenses, only for the exams.
At any rate, I mulled things over and cancelled my appointment. I may or may not work up the energy to look into this particular situation further.

The National Problem

[This page started out being about the actions of a single medical service provider. However it has now become about the national issue of medical service providers denying patients medical care unless the patient agrees  to sign what are known as SWAG CONTRACTS.]

Continuation and Update

I called the doctor's office. Yep, apparently most imaging/diagnostics centers are now pulling this stunt.

A patient being held responsible for a bill, because they falsely claimed they were insured, is indeed as it should be. However, a service provider attempting to force a patient to be held responsible for an insurer's breach of contract, bureaucracy, bad faith conduct, mistakes, or even just a misunderstanding is not.

The contract is between the service provider and the insurer, it is their responsibilities to understand and agree to the terms. Any attempt by a medical service provider to make a patient responsible for an insurer's actions is, to me, an essentially bad faith action on the part of the provider. Basically, the medical service provider is extorting the patient to insure the provider against the actions of the insurer, the threat being the withholding of needed medical care if the patient refuses to do so. In other words, patients are being forced to sign under duress.

Proposed Solution


Is it any wonder most countries think America has the most corrupt Medical Establishment on the planet? Our government keeps trying to fight it. But the greed and corruption is so entrenched, ingrained, embedded, and widespread (there are media reports almost daily on the subject) that nationalization of the medical industry may indeed be the only answer.

There would still be private sector medical professionals, but the government would be the single insurer and the only legally responsible payer. And it would be illegal for any private sector medical entity to try to coerce a patient into signing any sort of contract. Proof and authentication of identity would be all that is required, preauthorization for medical procedures implemented on an as needed basis. Premiums would be based on income.  Service providers (including hospitals) would no longer have to worry about being paid. Patients would no longer have to worry about being thrown into financial hardship or outright bankruptcy.

Meanwhile and for the time being, if a service provider hands you a contract such as the one I described in the above bulleted list.... Inform them that if they are unwilling to trust the insurer, then neither are you. You will no doubt immediately be thrown out, but at least you wont be a patsy.

You might try suggesting the service provider get preauthorization from the insurer. However and for some unknown reason, there are apparently some medical service providers who refuse to make the 3-minute phone call, the initially mentioned imaging and diagnostic center being one such case.

On a personal note, I am aware versions of this situation have been going on for decades. I have always circumvented the problem by simply adding the following sentence directly above my signature in caps:"ONLY PROVIDE INSURANCE COVERED SERVICES ONLY". The service provider then gets everything pre-authorized and there has never been a problem. As to why this particular, aforementioned imaging and diagnostic center is pulling this new stunt is beyond me. I live in a small town, hopefully the situation isn't as bad as the doctor's office has indicated and they can find a more ethical place to refer me.

This Has to Stop

A Bookmarks Reference List of Patients Bill of Rights Resources

I figured while I was at it, I might as well compile a list of resources regarding the rights patients are legally supposed to have. All listed websites are government or other well-known, reputable sources. All links go directly to the website's patients rights and assistance pages. I might add to this list from time to time.

Update:

List moved to Government Help for When Subjected to Medical Misconduct Victimization. Particularly relates to financial and billing misconduct.

Social Security and/or Other Online Federal Government Accounts Again Requiring Mandatory Security Code Verification in Addition to User Name and Password

February 2018 Update

Nothing really new to report. The only thing I can think to mention is that one should sign up with their website, regardless of age. Never hurts to keep an eye on things. Side note: I'm not putting a link here. Never go to an important site via a link from another site; too many security issues involved. Only go to such sites via directly from your browser address bar or from a well-known, reputable search engine; and while you're at it, hover the link to see where it really goes before clicking it.

May 2017 Update

This time they are making an email option available along with the previously aborted text messaging option. This should indeed keep the poor people (of which I am one) from being shut out of their accounts. It is nice to see that Social Security is finally catching up with reality. Here's the informational email they are sending out:

*Start*
Social Security continues to evaluate and improve how we protect what’s important to you. We take this responsibility seriously, and we have a robust cybersecurity program in place to help protect the personal information you entrust to us. Adding additional security measures to safeguard your personal information — but making our services easy to use — is a vital part of keeping you safe and secure.

On June 10, 2017, we will add a second method to check your identification when you sign in to my Social Security. This is in addition to the first layer of security, your username and password. Right now, you don’t have to do anything for this new process. But you may want to sign in to your account to make sure you remember your username and password. Then, when you sign in on or after June 10, you will be able to choose either your cell phone or your email address as your second identification method. Using two ways to identify you when you log on will help better protect your account from unauthorized use and potential identity fraud.

Since my Social Security became available in May 2012, more than 30 million people have created an account. We have always offered a second layer of protection, but only for customers who opted to use it.

Last summer, we added a second way for us to check your identity when you registered or signed in to my Social Security. However, at that time, we only allowed the use of a cell phone as your second identification method. We listened to your concerns, and beginning on June 10, you can choose either your cell phone or your email address as the second way for us to identify you. Since an email address is already required to use my Social Security, everyone can continue to benefit from the features my Social Security provides.

Each time you sign in to your account, you will complete two steps:
  • Step 1: Enter your username and password.
  • Step 2: Enter the security code we send you by text message or email, depending on your choice (your cell phone provider's text message and data rates may apply).
If you do not have a text-enabled cell phone, or you do not wish to provide your cell phone number, you will need to choose your email address as a contact method so we can send you a one-time security code to access your my Social Security account. To ensure you receive the email with the one-time security code timely and it does not go into your spam or junk folder, you can add NO-REPLY@ssa.ov to your contact list. 

We’re committed to using the best technologies and standards available to protect our customers’ data. This new security advancement is just one of the ways we’re ensuring the safety of the resources entrusted to us.

In addition to these security enhancements, we are also upgrading the look and feel of my Social Security, in an effort to create an enhanced customer experience. The my Social Security portal will automatically change its size based on the size of the screen and kind of device you are using – such as a tablet, smart phone, or computer. No matter what type of device you choose, you will have full, easy-to-use access to your personal my Social Security account.

*End*

For Those Who Are Interested, Here's What Happened Before...


2016 UPDATE The text-messaging requirement has been rescinded. Here is Social Security's latest email:

*Start*

On July 30, 2016, we began requiring you to sign into your my Social Security account using a one-time code sent via text message. We implemented this new layer of security, known as “multifactor authentication,” in compliance with a Presidential executive order to improve the security of consumer financial transactions.  SSA implemented the improvements aggressively because we have a fundamental responsibility to protect the public’s personal information.

However, multifactor authentication inconvenienced or restricted access to some of our account holders. We’re listening to your concerns and are responding by temporarily rolling back this mandate.

As before July 30, you can now access your secure account using only your username and password. We highly recommend the extra security text message option, but it is not required. We’re developing an alternative authentication option, besides text messaging, that we’ll begin implementing within the next six months.

We strive to balance security and customer service options, and we want to ensure that our online services are both easy to use and secure. The my Social Security service has always featured a robust verification and authentication process, and it remains safe and secure.

We regret any inconvenience you may have experienced.

There is no requirement that you access your personal my Social Security account as a result of the steps we are taking.  However, when you do access your account, we encourage you to sign up for the extra security text message option.  You can access your account by visiting www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.

 *End*

Here is the original post that started it all:


Poor People Can No Longer Access Their Social Security Or Other Online Federal Government Accounts


I am one of the people who cannot afford the monthly, exorbitant cell phone fees. I just received this email from Social Security. Leastwise I can afford internet access (try landline DSL if possible, can save decent money); but for me and millions of others, I guess internet access to our federal government accounts is no more.

*Start*

Starting in August 2016, Social Security is adding a new step to protect your privacy as a my Social Security user.  This new requirement is the result of an executive order for federal agencies to provide more secure authentication for their online services. Any agency that provides online access to a customer’s personal information must use multifactor authentication.

When you sign in at ssa.gov/myaccount with your username and password, we will ask you to add your text-enabled cell phone number.  The purpose of providing your cell phone number is that, each time you log in to your account with your username and password, we will send you a one-time security code you must also enter to log in successfully to your account.

Each time you sign into your account, you will complete two steps:
  • Step 1:  Enter your username and password.
  • Step 2:  Enter the security code we text to your cell phone (cell phone provider's text message and data rates may apply).
The process of using a one-time security code in addition to a username and password is one form of “multifactor authentication,” which means we are using more than one method to make sure you are the actual owner of your account.

If you do not have a text-enabled cell phone or you do not wish to provide your cell phone number, you will not be able to access your my Social Security account.

If you are unable or choose not to use my Social Security, there are other ways you can contact us.  To learn more, please review the Frequently Asked Questions found here.

*End*

And that's the way it is...

The How to, Best, and Cheap Way to Clean Your Glasses – And a Warning to Never Use Paper Products for Drying


It is amazing how many people ruin their glasses every year. Before they know it, the lenses are full of scratches and need to be replaced.

This page is as much about what not to do as well as do when it comes to cleaning glasses.

Many lenses are made of polycarbonate or other plastics. Kleenex, paper towels, and other paper products scratch plastic. For some reason, many optometrists do not automatically volunteer this information when giving you your new glasses.

How Do I Clean My Glasses?

  1. I run them under the faucet.
  2. Moisten my fingers and rub them on a non-abrasive, non-lotion soap bar. A drop of dish washing soap is also an option.
  3. Lightly rub and soap the lenses, surrounding frames and nose pads.
  4. Run the lenses under the faucet again, lightly rubbing them with my thumb and fingers until all the soap residue is completely gone.
  5. Then rub them dry with a nice, clean, big, fluffy bath towel or equivalent.
And that’s all there is to it.

Did I mention...
  • Never use Kleenex or other tissues.
  • Never use paper towels.
  • Never use any paper-based products whatsoever.
Paper products do indeed scratch plastic.

Hopefully this page will save at least one person unnecessary grief, aggravation, and expense.

Low Potassium and Muscle Spasms or Cramps in Elderly - Potassium Foods and NSAIDs


Muscle spasms, also known as muscle cramps, are painful indeed. Do you suffer from occasional or even not so occasional muscle spasms, foot cramps, leg cramps, etc.? The cure might be as simple as eating a meal rich in the mineral potassium.

There could be a couple dozen medical reasons for muscle spasms. If you go to the doctor or a medical clinic, they will be more than happy to help you. They will arrange for you to be given all sorts of medical tests. They will call in a few specialists along the way. There will be lots and lots of appointments for you to keep. Yes, they will do all this for you.Why? Because they really care. The several thousand dollars they will bill you is entirely incidental and will never even have entered their thoughts during the entire process.

Did you know low potassium in your diet is the most common cause of frequent muscle spasms and cramps? Maybe, just maybe, you would like to eliminate that possibility first before embarking on the above adventure.

Everyone knows bananas have potassium. But it turns out hey are actually number 10 on the high-potassium nutrition food list. What’s number one? I was pleased to discover lima beans graced that spot. And there are more ways to cook and prepare them than you can shake a banana at. And they are all delicious.

Foods Rich in Potassium

  • Lima Beans (as mentioned)
  • Spinach
  • Baked Potatoes
  • Salmon
  • Avocados
All of them are more potassium-enriched than bananas.

So give yourself a diet rich in potassium (don’t go overboard) for a few days and see how it goes. The muscle spasms and cramps just might go away and your problem is solved. It worked for me, foot and leg muscle spasms in my case.

And do be careful about too much potassium. Too much potassium is even worse than too little potassium. Your heart muscle, for one, will not take kindly to it. I've found when I start to feel the beginnings of muscle spasms, a single potassium-rich meal solves the problem.

Here is a page from the National Institute of Health which has more information about potassium and includes an expanded food list. It also has some very necessary warnings.

Beware NSAIDs

If you happen to know your muscle spasms, cramps, or other muscle pains were caused by too much muscle strain or other physical activity; ibuprofen actually works. You can buy Advil or you can buy the store generic brand with the exact same dosage for half the price. It should be mentioned ibuprofen is part of a class of drugs known as NSAIDs. In addition to general warnings about NSAIDs, NSAIDs don't get along well with a lot of other medicines and prescription medications. If you are taking other medicines or prescription medications, be sure to read what those medications have to say about being mixed with NSAIDs. I also found out recently doctors won't do elective surgery if the patient has recently been taking ibuprofen; turns out ibuprofen thins the blood and surgeons don't like that when it comes to surgery.

Also, the FDA is now saying NSAIDs increases one's chances of having a heart attack or stroke. Moderate doses for a few days are fine, but high doses or usage for more than a few weeks is not a good idea. My doctor also informed me recently that the kidneys are not very thrilled about NSAIDs either.

List of Senior Citizen Website Resources for the 50, 55, 60, 65, and Over Crowd



Updated for Year 2018

Resource Description
SSA.gov Social Security Administration.
Medicare.gov Medicare Information. All things medicare.
GovBenefits.gov Official government benefits website.
USA.gov/... Find government resources for money, housing,
health, consumer protection, and much more.
HUD.gov/...Housing options and assistance.
What your health insurance might cover.
Financial assistance resources and guides.
Access to HUD-approved housing counselor.
MissingMoney.com State and provincial governments working together
to safeguard and return your lost funds.
Unclaimed.org National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators
AARP.org All things senior citizen. Private organization.

Resource Description
retirementjobs Employment for older workers.
seniorjobbank Employment for older workers.
seniors4hire Employment for older workers.
Empty Nothing at present.
dinosaur-exchange Employment for older workers. Intl.
More More employment resources. Plus State and Federal.

Consumer Resources Page for future reference (new tab) - Has 97 consumer information resources, including product comparison sites and well-established coupon sites.


Medical Resources Page for future reference (new tab) - Has 28 medical information resources, including medical information, hospital and doctor information and ratings, and federal information websites.