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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Top 10 Websites For Boomers and Seniors in 2009

By Susan Levine

With the current economic downturn, more boomers and seniors are searching for reassurance and relief on the web - not only for a kind of financial first aid but also for healthy outlets for their time and energy. In addition, they are finding the web to be less a mystery and more of a tool to make their lives meaningful and productive.

The volume of information on the Internet, however, can be overwhelming. I've reviewed thousands of web sites to find user-friendly and relevant resources for inclusion in my Boomer search engine. To compile my Top 10 list of trustworthy, informative, and enjoyable sites for 2009, I've selected the sites that I've revisited many times. I'm sure you too, will find them invaluable in this upcoming year.

1. Grandparents.com
Where it's "great to be grand"! The grandkids are coming over and you're panicking? How can you entertain them? Look no further than Grandparents.com, "the place for today's new generation of active, involved grandparents."

Among the volumes of information supplied are assorted age-appropriate and weather-appropriate "things to do" (even in dozens of cities) including suggestions that won't cost thrifty grandparents a dime. Mix in travel, gift (find the perfect toy), video, and food suggestions (you even might be inspired to cook with your little darlings). Take advantage of expert advice on family, education, law, finance and health and get a peek into the psyche of celebrity grandparents. You'll get a treasure trove of information.

This is one site you won't want to leave home or stay home without.

2. Dynamic Living
Where can you find photographed independent living aids displayed boldly and accurately? Protected by the Better Business Bureau of Connecticut, Dynamic Living consumers shop either by use (moving around, sitting/standing, vision, communication, care giving, memory) or by location (car, kitchen, bathroom).

I like this site for its clarity, simplicity, readability, references and responsiveness. Two warnings:  See what other customers recommend but select well to avoid restocking charges. Also, customer service operates Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. EST only.

3.  Elder Law Answers 
Get your age-driven legal questions answered on Elderlaw. Elderlaw covers Medicaid, Medicare, nursing home rights, and estate planning.  Elderlaw 101 dumbs down additional topics, including veterans benefits, so you don't need to have a law degree to understand.  Find state-specific information and an attorney or listen to ElderLaw radio (today's featured show is "Finding the Money to Age Well.").

4. Nolo
Another great site for age-related legal advice is Nolo. Acclaimed as the "best legal self-help site on the web" (Yahoo!), Nolo defines legal terms in simple common language. This is where I take advantage of handy checklists and related articles in all aspects of law-and it's free! For example, I can find step-by-step instructions, such as making a will:

- Decide what property to include in the will

- Decide who will inherit the property

- Choose an executor to handle the estate

However, should I find my situation too complicated for a simple, I know that I can purchase the forms, legal kits and books for a modest fee.

Get your affairs in order with ease and according to the current law.

5. CNN's Money

CNN's Money has long been one of my web darlings. Money 101 explains money in a way that even a 10 year old could understand and the spacing makes the text extremely readable. For more difficult concepts, refer to the videos. I head straight for the "Ultimate Guide to Retirement" (Retirement) for practical advice relating to investing, IRAs, work, health care, pensions, insurance, estate planning and Social Security. Find out where and from whom you can get help. Educate yourself, make plans and put your worries aside.

6. Caring Connections
When I was assembling my Boomer Search Engine, I repeatedly came across Caring Connections. I found that the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) created its dynamic website to expeditiously drive caregivers and patients to the information they want so that they can make the best decisions given their circumstances. Users begin by simply indicating the group they fall into:

- Those planning ahead - Those caring for someone - Those living with illness - Those grieving.

Unfortunately the gray and lavender text on white background is not easy on aging eyes but the site does allow for effortless increase in text size. And most of the links displayed using more contrast. The information is comprehensive and straightforward. Find glossaries, checklists and organization tools. Take advantage of downloadable brochures and fill out your free state's advance directive without delay.

7. USA. Gov 

Thank goodness our tax dollars are working. The US government has provided a huge number of useful references for citizens and visitors. Arrange to be notified by email when policies or laws change. Enlarge the text (top right-hand corner), use the search box and get assistance for caregiving, consumer protection, employment, end-of-life, health, money and taxes, retirement, travel and more.

Find your representatives. Turn up your volume and view and listen to an easy presentation (usa.gov/About/tutorials/index.shtml) on how you can access government information. Shop government auctions and sales. Apply for benefits and grants. Locate in-person services near you. Email or speak to a real-live person using toll-free numbers.

8. Drug Digest
Drug Digest is "an educational, nonbiased drug information site dedicated to helping consumers make informed choices about trade name and generic" drugs and about treatment options. This site is a fabulous tool for comparing drugs and checking interactions. Learn not only about your drug, vitamin or supplement but also what the pill should look like (photos provided)-so you are absolutely certain you are taking the correct medication.

Enter all your drugs to check interactions with each other and with food and alcohol. Learn how to take your medication most effectively. Compare your drugs and their side effects. Find your health condition and consider many of the treatment options. Tried of paying high prices for brand name drugs? See if you can save with generics or similar, less expensive medicines. Make your own medication/emergency contact card.

Refer often to the checklist provided so that you are mindful about missing doses, proper storage, what to avoid, lifestyle restrictions and when to report to your doctor.

9. Vibrant Nation 

Stephen Reily, founder of Vibrant Nation, is a rare commodity, a man who understands women and what they want and need. On an attractive, readable and easy to maneuver site, his all-female panel of experts assists 50+ women exchange information. Here you can ask and answer questions, share or find recommendations or participate in a conversation. Women can reveal their favorite things on "love it lists" or reflect on things that make their lives better on "live it lists."

10. 50+Fabulous
50+Fabulous is intended to share ideas and motivate women to go after and achieve their dreams in spite of generations of barriers. In addition to its cadre of experts and guest columnists, this attractive and comprehensive site covers topics in timely articles such as those on life, work, love, food and wine, dating and style.

Find out how our generation of women has reinvented itself. And reach out to like-minded women. You're not alone.

Susan Levine is a boomer web entrepreneur and founder of http://www.50somethinginfo.com, the one stop source of pre-screened information dedicated to our 50something lifestyle. For comprehensive information and resources, visit her Boomer and Senior search engine dedicated to delivering the best of the net to adults (both men and women) 50 years old and better.

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