For those of you who have public access computers, be on the lookout for an influx of seniors and patrons with chronic health problems trying to sign up for the new Medicare prescription drug program. It's a complicated, buggy, jargony interface, and doubly so for people who have physical limitations or no/low tech skills. There's a link to a syndicated story, but it requires registration. A Kaiser Foundation study from mid-October gives more info:
In addition, about three in four seniors (76%) say that they have never gone online to use the Internet. Overall, 8% of seniors say that they have called 1-800-MEDICARE for assistance, and 6% say they have visited the website.
I've had my first taste of this frustrating process trying to help a patron last week. She's a library regular, a sharp woman, but with low tech skills and only the use of one of her hands (think keyboarding and mouse). Applicants are supposed to enter in all the prescriptions they have, and then find a plan (out of dozens) that will give them the best deal. So, don't be surprised if a patron suddenly pulls out a grocery sack full of pills at a computer workstation. I'd love to hear if other libraries have strategies for helping out.
UPDATE: I called our local senior social services provider to see if they knew of any organized efforts to help out, and got a very unencouraging voice message from the outreach worker saying that because of the number of phone calls she'd gotten, it might be a few days before she could get back to callers. I should probably call my mom and see what her plans are for dealing with this.
Clack o' the Keyboard to Library Link of the Day.