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Dear Readers: Have you been waiting for a new Medicare card, one that might protect your identity better? Your wait will be over soon.

Here's the scoop:

Your current Medicare card probably has your Social Security number on it. Medicare strongly suggests that seniors and others who are eligible should carry their Medicare cards at all times, because it is proof of insurance.

But if you lose your wallet or handbag, a thief easily could attempt to steal your identity by using your Social Security number.

Medicare cards are stepping into the 21st century. Your new card will have a specific ID number just for you, one that is not your Social Security number. The new cards are to be mailed beginning in April 2018.

You don't need to do anything to get your new card, and your coverage and benefits will not change. Also, there is no cost to you.

In the meantime, protect your current Medicare card. Visit www.medicare.gov/fraud for hints and tips to protect your identity, and to report fraud. Computerless? Call 1-800-633-4227. -- Heloise

Applying mascara

Dear Readers: I asked a question back in August: Why do you open your mouth when applying mascara? You have some ideas:

"Opening your mouth slightly when applying mascara relaxes the facial muscles, making you less likely to blink." -- C. Smith, Helotes, Texas

"The reason we open our mouths to apply mascara is because it pulls the skin below our eyelashes down." -- Anita L., Colorado Springs, Colorado

"Heloise, that is about the only way to keep from blinking. Heard about that tip at least 40 years ago -- and it works!" -- Nancy in San Antonio

"It is necessary to have a smooth and taut area to put on the mascara." -- C.F., San Angelo, Texas

"It's a reflexive action to open the mouth when applying mascara. Doing so arches our eyebrows and makes it easier to keep mascara off the eyelids." -- Deborah N., via email

Thanks for your responses! -- Heloise

Unclick it

Dear Heloise: When I place an order online, I dislike later getting advertising emails from the company. I look over the site when placing the order for a checked box that requests follow-up offers, etc.

It usually is on the lower left side, but could be anyplace. I remove the check mark, and I don't receive emails. -- Glenda S., via email

Broken toe?

Dear Readers: If you find yourself in an orthopedic "boot" due to an injury to your toes, foot or ankle, make sure your other foot can balance when you walk. You may need a shoe with a taller heel. Ask your doctor about this. -- Heloise

Reuse paper towel

Dear Heloise: If I use a paper towel just to dry my hands, I lay it flat and let it dry. It can be reused to wipe out the sink, scrub a spot on the counter or wiping off dishes before they go into the dishwasher. -- Mary K. in Phoenix

You are a recycle warrior! -- Heloise 

Medical care

Dear Heloise: Many people today are traveling for business, vacations and to visit family and friends. But what do you do when you need a doctor in a foreign country? -- Laura S., Auburn, Washington

Laura, your first call should be to the U.S. embassy (http://www.usembassy.gov), and I recommend having the phone number and address of the embassy with you for each country you plan to visit. The embassy can help you find a doctor or hospital, and even can contact family or friends on your behalf. Make sure the doctor you see can understand your language, and make a list of all medications you take. Have this information in your wallet for easy access.

It's always best to be proactive with your health. Make sure you're up to date with all vaccinations, have all of your medications with you, and carry a card with your blood type, any chronic illness you might suffer from and any allergies you have. Wear a medical-alert bracelet, especially if you have a serious medical condition. If you are traveling to a dangerous place, it's wise to register with the American embassy in that country. -- Heloise

Food to go

Dear Heloise: I have empty, hard-plastic gum containers, about 5 or 6 inches tall, but I didn't know what to do with them. Since they have attached lids that snap shut, I thought it was a shame to toss them out, so now I use them to pack trail mix or some type of dried fruit for my kid's lunch. I've used them for "munchies" on a plane. These containers fit in a lunchbox or purse, and they can be washed and reused. -- Claire M., Hanover Park, Illinois

Stained blouse

Dear Heloise: Help! I have a beautiful white silk blouse that has perspiration stains. Can I use chlorine bleach to get the stains out? -- Lola W., Melrose, Massachusetts

Lola, no, don't use chlorine bleach on silk, as it ruins the fabric over time. First, pretreat the stained area or soak with a product containing enzymes. Next, hand-wash with a mild soap and an oxygen bleach, if directions on the box say it's safe for silk.

Removing stains from clothing can be tricky, and if done incorrectly the garment can be ruined. If you'd like information on how to remove stains from your clothing, you can send for my pamphlet Handy Stain Guide for Clothing, which tells you how to get stubborn stains out. To get a copy, send $5 to: Heloise/Stains, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio TX 78279-5001. Or you can order it online at www.heloise.com. You'll find easy-to-use ideas to remove stains and save money at the same time. Why throw out clothing that can be as good as new with just a little care? -- Heloise

In a pickle

Dear Heloise: I have a window garden and a compost bin. Is it OK to use pickle juice to irrigate my plants, or should I pour it onto the compost pile? -- Cliff S., via email

Cliff, pour it on the compost pile. Pickle juice easily could burn the roots of delicate plants. -- Heloise

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A healthy budget

Dear Heloise: I'm always looking for ways to save money, and a big expense for me is my medical bills.

Here are some hints I use to help my budget:

  • I stay on top of my health with a yearly physical. The doctor can see potential problems and cut them off at the pass.
  • If the doctor finds anything, I always talk to another doctor -- a second opinion is important.
  • Prescription medications can be expensive. I ask the doctor for samples, and I always get generic medications when available, and a three-month supply by mail is a great way to save.

I hope these hints will help your readers like they've helped me! -- Hilda H. in Texas

Screaming 'fire'

Dear Heloise: People get used to hearing the squealing of children in the neighborhood; they may not respond to kids hollering if they feel threatened by a stranger.

But if the kids scream "fire," that would get the attention of nearby adults. Kids are smart -- they understand. -- Carola D., via email

Not delighted

Dear Heloise: I don't like when a company says, "If you're not happy, we'll give you your money back, no questions asked."

I want them to ask questions, like: "What can we do to satisfy you?" "Why aren't you happy?" "What can we do to secure your business?"

This would show that they care about developing and keeping relationships with their customers. -- Alice B. in Pittsburgh

Paint it clear

Dear Heloise: I paint base-metal rings and the back of base-metal pendants and bracelets with clear nail polish to avoid, or to reduce the chance of, the ring turning green or black. -- Barbara G. in Indiana

Remote problem

Dear Heloise: After being awakened to strange noises in the bedroom, I learned this lesson: If you have pets, don't leave your TV remote or cellphone lying face up on the nightstand, dresser or bed.

Turn your remote away from the TV or put it in a drawer. Stand your phone up or lay it face down. That way, if little paws step on them, they won't turn on the TV or dial the phone. -- Marty in San Antonio

Toeing the line

Dear Heloise: I had trouble keeping track of how many times I used my razor in the shower. I took an old toe separator used for pedicures, and now I put the razor in the hole on one side, and move it to the next hole after each use to keep track of five uses! -- Clover in Houston

Send a great hint to: Heloise, P.O. Box 795000, San Antonio TX 78279-5000; fax: 1-210-HELOISE; email: heloise@heloise.com.

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