The Savvy Senior

Jim Miller. The Savvy Senior (Hyperion, New York, N.Y., 2004; 250 pages).

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You will indeed be savvy about senior issues after finishing this information-packed book. It offers a wealth of resources and basic, need-to-know information on a broad range of topics of vital interest to seniors.

Within the book's 250 pages you will find information on locating volunteer opportunities for seniors, avoiding identity theft, fall-proofing a home, tracking down alternative housing arrangements, reducing the cost of prescription drugs, and securing assistance for the caregivers of Alzheimer's victims to name just a few of the scores of concerns the book addresses.

The author, Jim Miller, clearly knows his subject matter. Miller is the creator and writer of The Savvy Senior syndicated column, currently running in more than 400 newspapers around the nation, and manages the Savvy Senior Web site.

The issues Miller covers are grouped under six main categories: Lifestyle, Home, Health, Medicare and More, Social Security, and Finances. The Health section, for example, briefly summarizes a range of conditions that afflict the elderly -- from macular degeneration to osteoporosis -- giving warning signs and frequently recommended treatments.

In his characteristically personable style, Miller explains topics as arcane as Medicare's new prescription drug benefit and then offers up a storehouse of "Savvy Facts" and resources for further help, including associations, government agencies, and Web sites. Miller further spices up what could otherwise be dry reading with flashes of wit: a section discussing pre-paid funeral plans is titled "Shop Before Your Drop."

You might well ask, What does a self-described "MTV-generation guy" know about senior issues? As Miller explains it, his Savvy Senior publishing empire had its origins in October 2000, when his parents died within three weeks of each other. Miller subsequently took a temporary job at a retirement community because he thought that being around older people might help him with his grief. Residents at the community kept asking him questions that he couldn't answer but that he thought someone should. Soon he began writing a question-and-answer column for the local newspaper, and the rest, as they say, is history -- luckily for us.