HELP LINE: Remember to be careful on your way to happiness

IT DOESN’T FEEL like a real intense day, does it?

I agree, so how about a little bit of this and that?

OK, here’s a this:

A while back I was going on about the imminent appearance of our new Medicare cards, and how our Social Security numbers will be replaced by random characters and how they will just be plain old, down-home paper (taking some comfort in the fact that they will be easily replaceable by a quick trip to the website).

An alert (and, apparently, resourceful) reader offered: “To ‘laminate’ a paper printout, place it between two layers of transparent packing tape.”

Oh … well … sure.

Good idea.

Which brings us to an easy that, because we mentioned a quick trip to the website.

If you haven’t already, I’d suggest you take a look at the Social Security website,, and see what you can actually accomplish online.

A lot of us from a particular generation tend to get hung up on doing our business at a Social Security office and “what are their hours” and “which ones are open” and “what can you actually do” and manage to make ourselves crazy in the process.

You really can do all kinds of things right there, including learning a lot and, for instance, getting a replacement Social Security card.

I think you’re on your own for the transparent packing tape.

And if you happen to be casually cruising the internet, please take a look at

This is a new website for a service that’s been around for a long time, and actually works.

Known affectionately, in the business, as “Eldercare Locator,” it allows you to find just about any kind of service or program or related contact anywhere in the country, by state, city or zip code.

Don’t know the magic word(s) for exactly what you think you’re looking for?

No worries, because there are pretty sharp staff available for online chat to help you get where you think you might want to go.

For example, are you looking for in-home care in New Hampshire or home-delivered meals in Montana or personal emergency response systems in Michigan?

“Elder Locator” can get you there — free — or real darn close.

Of course, you can always call any of the local numbers at the end of this column and talk to a genuinely decent human being who will help you figure out this kind of stuff, but if you’re inclined to take a shot, take a shot at and watch what happens.

Here’s a story from a reader who describes herself as “74 and fat.”

The relevance of that description is that she was completing her grocery shopping — in pain — and just wanted to get her stuff to her car and go home.

She decided to donate a couple of bucks to a panhandler on the corner on her way out of the parking lot, so she took a few bucks out of her purse, tossed the purse into her backseat and returned her shopping cart.

In the time it took to return said cart, a woman who had been sitting in a car a couple of spaces away apparently grabbed her purse and quickly took off.

Our heroine’s attempt to mentally grab the license plate number was apparently less than perfect so, ultimately, the villain remained at large and our gal ended up losing $80, a Medicare card, a purse and her wallet and, I’m sure, no small dose of faith in humanity.

Oh, and she had to spend $103 on a locksmith, as the purse also contained her house keys.

The locksmith told her that business was booming, due to “rampant theft.”

This same reader relates a friend’s story about almost having her purse snatched from the hook on the inside of the door on a restroom stall by a presumably tall thief, who was only foiled by our potential victim’s bloodcurdling scream.

Now she wraps her purse strap twice around the hook, to keep it tight.

The moral of these stories, certainly, is to keep your wits about you, lock everything all the time (no matter how brief your absence might be) and try to think like the bad guys to reduce the odds of your becoming a crime victim.

Who could argue with that?

I couldn’t agree more.

Our reader says: “Are drugs to blame? Probably.”

She might be right, which might also tell us something about where we keep our own prescription drugs, who knows about them, who can access them, etc.


Some of us, from the same generation that assumes that Social Security business needs to be conducted at Social Security offices, might remember the prose poem “Desiderata,” which legend says was found in a church in Baltimore in 1692. According to Wikipedia, “Desiderata” was copyrighted by Max Ehrmann in 1927 in Terre Houte, Indiana.

The poem concludes with the following:

“With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.”

Be careful.

Strive to be happy.


Mark Harvey is director of Clallam/Jefferson Senior Information & Assistance, which operates through the Olympic Area Agency on Aging. He is also a member of the Community Advocates for Rural Elders partnership. He can be reached at 360-452-3221 (Port Angeles-Sequim), 360-385-2552 (Jefferson County) or 360-374-9496 (West End), or by emailing [email protected].

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