Mail Management for Seniors: Prevent the Dreaded Paper Piles
When it comes to mail management, it can seem like a luxury—a task that can be easily managed day-to-day. The reality is that mail management is a job in and of itself—and one that can be even more challenging for seniors, who may avoid technologies intended to replace the mountains of letters, bills, promotions and postcards.
It used to be that your mailbox was something exciting—a present to be opened, with promises of news from far off friends, gifts from abroad, and yes, even the occasional bill to be paid. However, those days have changed—the U.S. Postal Service is delivering more than 506 million pieces of mail each day, and American homes have to deal with just under a thousand pieces of junk mail each year. A Signature Senior Concierge can help by putting a simple mail management system in place.
How To Create a System for Proper Mail Management
Good mail management is different for different people—based just as much on the lifestyle of the individual as the pieces of mail that hit the mailbox. For example, a senior citizen with a number of health matters may become overwhelmed with communications from insurance companies, Medicare, or doctors’ appointments; a senior with large investments may get more pieces from financial planners, or investment statements to keep up with.
Fortunately, mail management can answer the needs for all different types of individuals, and a personal concierge is a great person to help set up processes for an organized system. When considering mail management for a special senior in your life, consider all the many ways that a good mail management system may help:
Paying Bills on Time
Paying bills on time is a necessity, especially for seniors on a fixed income. Missed payments can incur additional fees and charges, which can add up quickly. But keeping track of what bill is due, when, and to whom, can be overwhelming—especially for someone trying to help from the outside.
- Handle the bill payments on time. Set up a calendar with due dates for each bill, and a document with all account numbers, phone numbers, and account information. With this type of high-level organization, anyone—friend, family member, caretaker or concierge—can step in and make sure that everything is paid correctly and on time.
- Set up online bill pay. With a little help, you can set up most bills to be paid automatically and online, without having to keep track of each payment month by month. What’s more, many banks will offer bill payment directly from the bank, so you don’t even have to worry with stamps or outgoing mail.
- Reconcile bank statements and balance checkbooks. With incoming and outgoing payments, it helps to have someone occasionally checking up to make sure everything was accounted for correctly. Have someone who can balance the checkbook on a consistent basis, but also make sure someone can reconcile those monthly statements to avoid any discrepancies.
- Resolve banking issues that arise. Even in a great system, problems sometime arise. When they do—whether it’s a bank fee or a duplicated payment—it’s helpful to have someone willing to take the extra—and sometimes exhausting—steps to make it right.
Keeping up with medical information
As we age, we also tend to have a growing number of medical issues, and with those come increasing communications from insurance companies, benefit managers, and more.
- Insurance and EOBs. Keep track of what your insurance company has paid and will pay, and create a filing system to make sure the same amounts make it to the doctor’s receipts.
- Claims. With outstanding claims, failure to keep track of payment can mean you may miss out claim returns completely. Make sure your system is setup to review outstanding claims and check in on them at specific intervals.
- Resolving billings. Just like at the bank, hospitals and physician’s practices make mistakes, and when that happens, you don’t want to end up on the short side of the deal. Having someone focused on keeping an eye out for differences that might pop up among all parties can keep everyone on track.
Unnecessary signups, credit cards, and promotions
More often than not, most of the mail in the mailbox isn’t something that we requested or even want. Being able to identify, sort and prioritize those stacks is a must when it comes to effective mail management.
- Identify junk mail from real mail. Sometimes, mail comes in from “official” sources—the IRS, the county tax assessor’s office, or a bank—but a close look determines that it’s fraudulent. Oftentimes, these pieces are highly designed marketing pieces for outside, for-profit entities, but regardless, they can be a huge security risk for identity theft.
- Get off of mailing lists. It’s easy enough to get off mailing lists—but it sometimes requires a good deal of follow up, phone calls, or notices to be successful. In the meantime, make sure you are shredding mail with identifying information and recycling everything else to keep the paper piles at bay.
With these practices, you can develop a solid mail management plan, but if it still seems overwhelming, be sure to talk to your Signature Senior Concierge about taking charge of your loved one’s mail system.