You’re approaching 65 — the age at which you’re eligible for Medicare. And things are about to get complicated.

“They’re going to get mail like they’ve never seen before,” said Linda Alldredge of Country Financial, who helps Sisters seniors navigate the labyrinth that is Medicare coverage.

AARP’s Medicare Resource Center page gives a glimpse at how complicated things can get:

“You can enroll in Part B without buying Part A, if you want to. But if you buy into A, you also must enroll in B. You can get Part D if you’re enrolled in either A or B. You cannot enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan (such as an HMO or PPO) or buy a Medigap supplemental insurance policy unless you’re enrolled in both A and B.”

So how do you figure out what you should buy and what you don’t need?

Alldredge encourages seniors to start looking into Medicare coverage several months before a decision is required. And get some guidance if you’re not clear.

“I help them understand the decision tree,” she said. “Once you understand the literature you’re getting … at least you have perspective. Spend the time; understand how it works. I know it’s boring as all getout, but it’s important because you don’t want to go down the wrong path and regret it. Don’t rush into enrollment till you really understand it.”

Making the right decision on what plan to enroll in the first time is important, because switching plans can be complicated and difficult. And there may be programs available to you that you don’t know about. Identify your needs and seek the plan that fits you best.

Alldredge emphasizes that there should be no embarrassment about seeking help to navigate the maze.

“Smart people have a hard time with this one,” she said. “Doctors don’t understand Medicare sometimes.”

That’s why it’s important to give yourself plenty of onramp before it’s time to choose. Study and good guidance will pay off.

“At some point, you will develop a trust in your own navigation,” Alldredge said. “don’t make a decision till you’re there.”