Aging Well in the Gorge October 12th, 2022

How do you know it’s autumn? The leaves falling? The cooler mornings? The football hysteria? No, it’s a mailbox full of solicitations from Medicare insurance plans.

And why? Because October 15th is the start of the annual Medicare Open Enrollment period which continues through December 7th. Since each year the insurance companies can adjust their Medicare plans, the Open Enrollment period gives you a chance to decide if your Medicare plan is still the best option for you or if it’s time to switch to another plan.

To help decide, first take time to review your plan’s “Annual Notice of Change” (ANOC) which you should have received in September. It describes any changes to your current plan for next year. Then ask yourself the big three Medicare questions.

1.) Does your plan allow you to go to the providers you want including your pharmacy?

2.) Are your prescription drugs covered?

3.) How much does the plan cost?

If you’re satisfied with your current plan, you don’t need to do anything although you still may want to look for a better deal, especially if you have avoided the hassle of comparing plans over the past several years.

But if you aren’t satisfied with the changes, you will want to compare your current plan to other plans which can be frustrating, perplexing, and downright confusing. But remember all health insurance is complicated!

To compare the available plans in your county, you can visit and use the Medicare Plan Finder; study the “Medicare & You” handbook you received in the mail; call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) where help is available 24/7, or in Oregon you can visit the Oregon SHIBA website. (Senior Health Insurance Benefits Assistance which is a federally funded, state run program.)

If you’d rather talk to someone face-to-face, you can meet with a private insurance broker who specializes in Medicare, or you can schedule an appointment with a trained impartial SHIBA volunteer counselor who will help you navigate your way through the Medicare system. To schedule an appointment, call 541-288-8341 in Oregon, 509-773-3757 in Goldendale or 509-493-3068 in White Salmon, and for Skamania County call the Area Agency on Aging & Disabilities of Southwest Washington at 888-637-6060.

I know it takes time to review all the Medicare options: Original Medicare, Advantage Plans, Medigap, and prescription drug plans. But it is important that you understand your Medicare options so you can make informed decisions – both for your health and your pocketbook.

Well, I’m getting a little tired, and also frustrated, with the Lateral Thinking puzzles. So switching gears here is another brain tease for your mental enjoyment from the website

A Caesar Cipher is one of the simplest and easily cracked encryption methods. It involves replacing each letter of the secret message with a different letter of the alphabet. A hint: it’s also called the Caesar “Shift”.

See if you can decipher this Mel Brook’s quote.

“Bt mpoh bt if xpsme jt uvsojoh boe tqjoojoh xf’sf hpoob cf ejaaz boe nblf njtublft.”

The name of the 1968-1972 television show hosted by Dan Rowan and Dick Martin was Laugh-in. And the political candidate who asked, “Sock it to me?” was Richard Nixon. I received the correct answer from Linda Frizzell, Marlene and Keith Clymer. And those who also remembered Richard Nixon were Donna Mollet, Doug Nelson, Rhonda Spies, Lana Tepfer, Margo Dameier, Mike McFarlane, Tina Castanares, and Nancy Higgins this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket. And last week I missed Jody Cochenour.

This espionage thriller ran from 1965 to 1968 and broke ground as the first American television drama starring an African-American actor in a lead role. For this week’s “Remember When” question what was the name of the television series that starred two tennis bums/secret agents: Robert Culp as the international tennis player Kelly Robinson, and Bill Crosby as his trainer Alexander Scott?  Email your answer to, call 541-296-4788 or send it with sweatshirts from Temple University and the University of Washington.

Well, it’s been another week, avoiding the tough questions. Until we meet again, keep a smile on your face.

“Whatever the limits are, you can always do a little more than you think you can, and you can get a certain pleasure out of that.” George Leonard

Nutritious home-delivered and in-person meals are available at noon Monday through

Friday unless otherwise noted.

Seniors of Mosier Valley (541-980-1157) – Mondays and Wednesdays; Hood River

Valley Adult Center (541-386-2060); Sherman County Senior and Community Center

(541-565-3191); The Dalles Meals-on-Wheels (541-298-8333)

For meal sites in Washington, call Klickitat County Senior Services – Goldendale office

(509-773-3757) or the White Salmon office (509-493-3068); Skamania County Senior

Services (509-427-3990).

Answer: “As long as the world is turning and spinning, we’re gonna be dizzy and we’re gonna make mistakes.”

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