Get The Goods

By Ginny Frizzi

May 21, 2010 5 min read

There may be some debate over the age at which a person becomes a senior citizen -- 55, 62 or 65 -- but one thing is certain: freebies! Senior citizens are eligible for many free goodies, including services and information.

Many seniors are creative and enjoy everything from knitting and making crafts to drawing and woodworking. Seniors interested in learning to draw or paint should go to http://ConniGordon.org, where free lessons are available. The lessons, which have been carried on PBS stations, can open a new world, according to Conni Gordon.

"No experience is needed to discover the creative capability at any age," Gordon says. Even your first try may be eye-opening. "It makes time worthwhile for both the creators and family or friends, who could enjoy or own samples of their art," she says. "A sketch a day can keep the doctor away."

Seniors interested in selling their work can open free accounts at ArtFire.com to sell their work online. According to Kevin Ian -- ArtFire.com's director of social media -- seniors can sell an unlimited number of items with no hidden fees. "We provide resources, guides and helpful tips to seniors to help get them up and running with their online studio. We have a large community of seniors who appreciate our easy-to-use platform and friendly customer service, especially when the price is free," he says.

Many of the senior freebies serve as a practical resource for the age group. Financial planning is at the top of many seniors' to-do lists. A free e-book that looks at how some seniors are losing their inheritances is available at http://www.SaveInheritance.com.

MT Care Navigators offers a free health care concierge network that helps seniors find community resources.

Some of the most useful senior citizen freebies come in the form of medical assistance. NeedyMeds is a nonprofit organization that provides free information on more than 2,400 programs and 11,000 free, low-cost or sliding-scale clinics across the country. NeedyMeds also offers a free discount card that can be used at more than 60,000 pharmacies. The discount varies at each pharmacy. The card can be downloaded from NeedyMed's website (http://www.NeedyMeds.org).

Those who are 65 or older may qualify for free eye examinations at more than 7,000 volunteer ophthalmologists' offices throughout the United States that provide this service. For more information, call the EyeCare America help line at 800-222-EYES or go to http://www.EyeCareAmerica.org.

For free information on health issues, check out mmLearn.org, a website that has more than 100 videos dealing with aging and caregiving. It also features "Ask the Geriatrician," which is a free monthly webcast. Viewers can submit questions online and receive answers from a trained geriatrician.

To learn about all the senior citizen freebies available, it is imperative to become familiar with the World Wide Web. There is a free service called BenefitsCheckUp (http://www.BenefitsCheckUp.org), which enables seniors to learn whether they are eligible for any state or national benefits programs.

The federal government is a source of various freebies of particular interest to seniors. If you know someone celebrating a 50th wedding anniversary or an 80th birthday, contact the White House greetings office for a card from the president. The request must be made six to eight weeks before the big day and include the recipient's name and address and the occasion being celebrated. The White House also will send greetings for weddings and births, although these requests should be made after the events. All requests should be sent to the White House Greetings Office, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20500 or faxed to 202-456-2461.

For more government freebies, check out http://www.MyAmericanBenefits.com, which includes a section for seniors.

Seniors who enjoy the great outdoors can take advantage of the National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands' senior pass. The cost is almost as good as free, $10 for a lifetime pass for American citizens or permanent residents 62 or older. The pass covers admission to federal recreation sites that charge entrance or standard amenity fees. The pass holder and passengers (up to three other adults) are admitted for free. For complete details, go to http://www.nps.gov/fees_passes.htm.

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