AMARILLO The confusion over the new Medicare discount prescription drug cards just got a little bit clearer, thanks to a new Web site. And older adults with limited computer skills don’t have to let that limitation stand in their way, said Andrew B. Crocker of Amarillo, Texas Cooperative Extension program specialist in gerontology health.
Texas Cares, http://www.txcares.org, was designed “to help older Texans get information that may help them obtain their prescription drugs,” Crocker said.
The new Web site is part of the Texas Department on Aging initiative, Aging Texas Well, Crocker said, which is “dedicated to ensuring that state agencies and local communities work together so that older Texans can enjoy the best possible quality of life.”
Texas Cares was established by the Texas Department of Aging according to legislation authored by Rep. Sid Miller of Stephenville in last year’s session of the Texas Legislature.
Texas Cares helps people aged 60 and older connect to existing prescription assistance programs offered by pharmaceutical companies, Crocker said.
From legislators to professionals to Web sites the resources to aid older Texans have more access to prescription drugs are out there, Crocker said.
Help is available for the asking. A national program called CyberSeniors (http://www.cyberseniors.org) teams volunteer instructors with older adults who want to learn Web skills. Learning centers are set up in schools, libraries, senior and community centers and other locations all over the country, according to the Web site. And some of the volunteer instructors are 4-H’ers, thanks to a partnership between AARP’s Educator Community, the National 4-H Youth Technology Corps and CyberSeniors.org. In Texas, a group of 4-H’ers in Dimmit County are participating in CyberTeens (http://cscyberteens.host.sk/).
Other 4-H’ers are also helping out, thanks to a program called Teens Teaching Internet Skills (http://www.nnh.org/ttis.htm) This program, according to its Web site, is “a great program for technology-savvy 4-H’ers to help seniors become comfortable with accessing the Internet for information.” The pilot sessions, conducted through U.S. Department of Agriculture, Health Care Financing Administration and 4-H, were so successful that plans have been made to offer the program nationwide.
The goal is to teach older adults how to navigate Medicare’s Web site (http://www.medicare.gov) in order to “make better-informed health care decisions by providing comparative information on health plans, nursing homes and Medigap insurance and on Medicare events and other help topics,” according to information on the Web site.
Locally, Crocker also has offered a mini-course called “Surfing the Web 101″ at the Amarillo Senior Citizens Center.
These training opportunities are available so seniors will be better able to access the information available to them, Crocker said. “With time, patience and training (on the basics), I find that most older people are amazed at what they are able to find and do on the Internet. It’s just getting over that initial hump’.
“I think as we see the Baby Boomers move into the age range where this type of resource would be needed, it will see increased utilization,” he said. “Until then, we can just hope to reach those who have access and know-how’.”
For more information on Texas Cares or the Texas Department on Aging, go to the Web at http://www.tdoa.state.tx.us/. To learn about local computer training classes for older adults, contact a county Extension agent or call AARP at (888) 687-2277.