Columns

I love that I'm old enough for AARP 2014.07.16

on . Posted in Midnight Musings

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By COLLEEN LEDDY

I am always surprised when people around my age or older show little interest in AARP. (I pronounce it “arp;” others spell out each letter: A-A-R-P.) I love AARP, formerly the American Association of Retired Persons, now just a membership organization for people over 50. 

But my friend Betsy says she has AAA, why would she need AARP?

She likes all the discounts she gets with her triple A membership, why bother with another membership? But AARP is different. Not only do they offer discounts on a wide variety of goods and services with a really cheap membership fee, they publish a magazine and a bulletin about matters that pertain to people older than 50. Those publications make it all worthwhile.

I was sorting through a pile of papers recently and discovered several AARP articles that I had cut out and saved—ones that I wanted to talk about with David and ones that piqued my interest. I had saved them to remind myself to look up the topic online for more information. 

Yes, I am an information junkie. I like to know things and once I learn about one thing, that makes me want to know more. And the AARP Magazine and the AARP Bulletin are always full of interesting information.

The magazine has features on health and finance, movie reviews, and celebrity interviews among a variety of other topics. The bulletin overlaps some of that information, but also includes health policy, Social Security, Medicare, politics, scam alerts and other consumer protection issues.

It’s sent to every AARP member so it’s easy to believe that it’s the largest circulation magazine in the United States. Maybe the content of AARP Magazine and AARP Bulletin is available everywhere, but I find surprising bits of information in every issue.

A recent example from June/July 2014, “7 Ways to Lose Those Last 5 Pounds: When your diet won’t get you to your target weight, these sneaky culprits could be to blame,” mentions something I’ve never heard before: some chemicals impede weight loss. The article recommends avoiding environmental toxins such as plastic storage containers, pesticides on fruits and vegetables, and—the most shocking—thermal cash register receipts. 

Reading about that was an Oh. My. God. moment for me. I love receipts. I love receipts almost as much as I love information. I love receipts because they contain so much information. The price of gas at Costco four years ago? I could have told you that before reading the article, but I tossed the receipt after reading about its toxicity. The article said those receipts are a significant source of the hormone-disrupting chemical BPA. Yes, I’ll have to confirm that online, but isn’t that just fascinating information?

Here’s another from the April 2014 AARP Bulletin, “Am I Losing My Mind: Conditions that mimic dementia.”  Maybe you’re not on the road to Alzheimer’s. Maybe it’s just the effects of “normal pressure hydrocephalus” (NPH), medication, depression, a urinary tract infection, thyroid disease, vitamin B12 deficiency, diabetes, or alcohol abuse that makes you think you’re going nuts.

Are you wondering why I even bother with the print version of the magazine and bulletin? Why I don’t just get all my information online? Sure the AARP website is loaded with information and is even more robust with tools such as mortgage payoff, credit card payoff, retirement and health care costs calculators, but much as I love it, I’m already bombarded online with information. Sometimes I just like it in smaller, digestible turn-the-page-and-take-a-glance bites. Sometimes I just like to read the “Caroline Says” updates about my three-year-old granddaughter that Rosie posts to a Google Doc.

Caroline: “Library not open tomorrow. 

Rosie: “Yes, it is. It's open every day. 

Caroline: “Not holidays.” 

Rosie: “You're right. It's not open on holidays.” 

Caroline: “That means it not open every day.”

Future information expert?

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