Thursdays are when we focus on baby boomer and senior citizen news at SandwichINK. It's never hard to find important news for all of us boomers and seniors but it's not often my senior mom or I open it in our personal mail. That's what happened this week, though. My mother opened a letter from her Medicare supplemental insurance company (who shall remain nameless 🙂 ) and was greeted with the disconcerting words, "You've not been covered by "our insurance company" for some time now, and we've missed you."
Since she never quit them AND has made her payments automatically, that really upset her. Fortunately, I was right there and she just handed the letter to me. Fifteen minutes and two phone calls later, we discovered those letters had been sent to many covered clients in error. She was still covered, WHEW! And feeling much relieved.
But what about other senior citizens who received that letter and who didn't have someone to help them? I'm sure it was a very stressful week for many who received that letter. Hopefully the company will send a clear and easy to understand follow-up letter out soon explaining the mistake!
In the meantime, if your senior parents receive a notice like that, regardless of the company, it's vital to call and make sure it was just an error on the insurance company's side. Unfortunately, I've heard of other situations that didn't end so well – with seniors forgetting to make their payments and losing their insurance without even realizing it. One thing I did for a long distance senior I helped a few years ago was make arrangements to be notified by several of her utility companies if they didn't receive a regular payment. Many utilities offer this service to caregivers and it's wonderful for those of us caring for the elderly parents and relatives in our family who don't live nearby.
Another great way to monitor their payments, if you are already helping them with finances and if they are open to this idea, is to set up online accounts for their various insurance, utility, and other companies they pay – with you as well as them being able to access these accounts. Then you can easily monitor payments made (or not made) from anywhere. Be sure to keep careful records if you make any changes to their accounts – for their sake and for yours.
Staying on top of their financial issues does take time but these tips can help minimize that as well as being a great stress reliever for all of us in the Sandwich Generation as well as our elderly parents!
P.S. Amazon has several resources that look great if you'd like more information on this topic, including You and Your Aging Parents: The American Bar Association Guide to Legal, Financial, and Health Care Issues