The envelopes started arriving on my 64th birthday. They come to both our post office box and the mailbox at the house. Everybody wants to help me get ready for Medicare when I turn 65. It’s really touching, such thoughtfulness and concern from strangers. People I not only don’t know, but can’t even figure out how they found me and knew I am closing in on the big 65.

At first, I just tossed it all into the recycle bin, but they kept coming. My bet is these companies know you are going to ditch the first 500 or so. But eventually they wear you down. All those grey-headed, smiling faces showing up two places at a time. Well, it makes you wonder. At least it made me wonder. So, I broke down and decided to open a few.

The envelopes are like those clown cars in the circus. You can keep pulling stuff out for half an hour. Once I had my piles organized, I braced myself with an evening Scotch and sat down to read. It was almost easy at first. If I had just read the first page and stopped, I might have understood the stuff. But I didn’t stop at one page; I went on page after page, envelope after envelope, from Part A to B and then on to D. Supplemental this led on to supplemental that.

It would be nice to say that I emerged better-informed and full of useful information. You would think I’d now be educated enough about Medicare to give advice, but that was not the case. I was more confused than before. Questions I didn’t have had been answered, advice I didn’t need had been provided. All that remained was for me to extract myself from the piles of knowledge and seek someplace less confusing and more straightforward for the answers I needed.

Goggling “Medicare information” turned out to be more like waving a rich senior in front of a “retirement specialist”. There was nothing but pay-per-click ads. I did not notice this at first. Like an innocent, I simply went to the first listing on the page. Don’t blame me; you must remember I had been worn down by all that brochure reading.

You can imagine my surprise when the first website popped up with the familiar faces I had just plowed through. It was the same for the second and third sites. It turns out that the same companies that had been flooding my mailboxes for weeks had also stacked the Goggle deck. I felt surrounded.

Eventually, I made my way to It felt like arriving at an oasis in the desert to see the page open and none of those wretched faces leering at me. The site is a quiet blue and very comforting. The information is laid out in a simple, straightforward manner. It was impossible not to feel that, if I knew what I was looking for, it would be easy to find. But I didn’t, so it wasn’t.

Finally, I discovered a blog by a lovely person who suggested I go down to the Social Security office and talk with a human being face-to-face. And I am going to do that as soon as I am recovered enough to chance it.

Aging in place, it doesn’t happen by accident. But sometimes it does make you wonder.

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About the author

Scott Funk has specialized in Home Equity Conversion Mortgage reverse mortgages for over a decade. He is a recognized Aging in Place advocate in his home state of Vermont. His monthly newspaper column Aging in Place has run for 7 years in 24 papers around the state. Scott is brings a lighthearted approach to his talks on Boomers, retirement and aging on purpose.