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LifestyleRetirement

Tip: Guide helps seniors cope with life on LI

Everyone knows that when you turn 65, you are eligible for Medicare. But did you know there's a state program that helps low- and moderate-income seniors with the cost of their prescription drugs? Or that Nassau and Suffolk counties have a program to help seniors on fixed incomes weatherproof their homes?

The Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage program (800-332-3742, www.health .state.ny.us/health_care/epic) and the Weatherization Referral and Packaging program (516-227-7386, Nassau; 631-853-8327, Suffolk) are two of the hundreds of resources collected in "The Golden Guide," a free handbook aimed at helping seniors and their families cope with life on Long Island. The guide, the brainchild of Dawn Friedland-Perez and Tracey Kuczinski, is updated every six months. In addition to government programs, the guide has extensive listings of local companies that serve seniors and their families.

The summer edition is due July 1. Friedland-Perez and Kuczinski say the response to the first two editions of the guide has been gratifying and overwhelming.

"Not only do seniors and their families use the guide, but the specialists, the hospitals and the libraries also use this as their bible," Kuczinski says. About 20,000 of the ad-supported booklets are distributed to hospitals, libraries and doctors' offices around Long Island. They also are available to the public. If you want to get a free copy of the summer edition, send an e-mail with your name and address to thegoldenguide@optonline.net or call 631-946-6101.

Much of the information for the guide was culled by Friedland-Perez and Kuczinski from their day jobs. Friedland-Perez is a social worker who helps clients negotiate the health-care maze and other daily hurdles. "Everything that was in my head being a social worker for 15 years, I had to get it out of my head and in a book," she says. Kuczinski is a senior housing advocate (seniorhousing

advocate.com) who helps older folks and their families find affordable and appropriate housing on Long Island.

In the guide, eligibility requirements and benefits for each program are clearly explained. "We tried to make it as simple as we could," Kuczinski says. "It's very hard for seniors, because they don't know what's out there for them, and when they find something, they very often don't understand it."

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