SENIOR CITIZENS Guides help elderly stay on top of issues

Older adults can navigate through the latest data on pertinent topics.
Every January, millions of Americans make New Year's resolutions, vowing to give up bad habits and start taking better care of themselves.
For older adults, though, finding the most effective and productive ways to accomplish those goals can depend on deciphering the latest developments in everything from health and wellness issues to long-term care, Social Security and Medicare. Making one's way through all that data can be confusing.
Government agencies, health organizations and nonprofit associations continually review research on current medical, legal, government, financial and social issues affecting senior Americans and publish those findings in free or low-cost, easy-to-read booklets, pamphlets and reports.
For help navigating the aging process, check out the following guides. Some information is available on the Web, while other information can be obtained with a phone call or by sending a self-addressed, stamped envelope.
Choices in health care
The Food and Drug Administration and the Council on Family Health are urging folks to be more active in their own health care, especially when it comes to medication. Their brochure, "Be an Active Member of Your Health Care Team," available in English or Spanish, features information that can help readers make informed choices about both prescription and over-the-counter medicines and encourages an open channel of communication between patients and health care providers. To request free copy by name, call (888) INFO-FDA (888-463-6332), follow prompts 2-1-3-3. The publication is also online at
Also from the FDA and the Council on Family Health is "Medicines and You: A Guide for Older Adults." The booklet includes tips on safe medicine use, avoiding dangerous drug interactions and cutting medicine costs, as well as a handy diary for keeping track of all your medications. To request a free copy by name, call (888) INFO-FDA and follow prompts 2-1-3-3 or write FDA, Attention: MEDS & amp; YOU, 5600 Fishers Lane, Rm.12B-31, HFD-210, Rockville, Md. 20857.
Speak easy
Unsure of how to act or what to say when visiting loved ones who are in a hospital or nursing home? The American Health Care Association offers "Tips on Visiting Friends and Relatives." The brochure includes information on scheduling, activities and conversation starters to ensure a positive experience for patient and visitor. Get the free guide by calling (800) 628-8140, or log on to the Website www.longtermcareliving.-com.
For those who care
Statistics show that 10 percent of people over 65 and nearly half of all individuals over 85 suffer from Alzheimer's disease or another form of dementia. The American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living have co-authored a new booklet, "Caring for Someone With Alzheimer's." The free publication covers Alzheimer's warning signs and explains some of the behaviors and problems that can be encountered while caring for someone with the disease. For a copy, call (800) 628-8140 or log on to
AARP offers a number of free booklets on topics of special interest to Americans who are 50 and older, including publications on health insurance, grandparenting, Medicare, financial planning, staying healthy, and consumer protection. New for 2005, "Medicare Changes That Could Affect You" (D18070); "Medicare Drug Discount Card: What You Need To Know" (D18105); "Medicare Drug Discount Card: Helping Those With Limited Incomes" (D18102); "Medicare and Other Health Insurance as You Retire" (D17739); "Grandparenting: The Joys and Challenges" (D17779); and "Consumer Protection: A Guide to Your Rights and Choices" (D17795). All are available in both English or Spanish. To request a free print copy of any of these, call (888) OUR-AARP (888-687-2277) Monday through Friday between 7 a.m. and midnight Eastern time, or visit the Web site
Additional titles
The Federal Citizen Information Center offers hundreds of free publications on health, consumer and financial issues and government programs. Titles include "Buying Prescription Medicines Online: A Consumer Safety Guide," "Staying Healthy At 50(plus)," "Social Security: Understanding the Benefits," "Questions and Answers About Arthritis & amp; Exercise," "Top 10 Ways To Prepare for Retirement" and many others. To request a catalog, write FCIC, Pueblo, Colo. 81009 or call (888) 878-3256. Information is also available online at

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