Like many seniors, your 2024 New Year’s resolutions may focus on prioritizing your health and taking better care of yourself as you age. Medicare recognizes the importance of your physical and mental well-being by covering many preventive services and wellness benefits that help you achieve your goals.
You can be proactive in managing your own health. Make 2024 the year of a healthier you!
Schedule your annual wellness visit
This annual appointment with your primary care doctor focuses on helping you stay healthy to avoid injury, illness, and disease. The goal of this visit is to help you maintain your current health and prevent problems down the road by identifying any potential health risks. Medicare covers this visit is covered in full.
Schedule routine screenings
Preventive screenings can lead to earlier detection of disease, which can result in better medical outcomes. This include screenings for diabetes, glaucoma, breast, cervical, colon, and prostate cancer, and heart disease. Talk to your doctor about which screenings are recommended for you. Medicare covers them all in full.
Schedule your routine dental exam
Regular dental checkups are important for maintaining good oral health. Serious conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and respiratory infections have been linked to poor dental health in seniors. Many Medicare Advantage plans offer coverage for routine dental visits. Some offer additional coverage for services such as fillings, crowns, and root canals.
Schedule your annual vision exam
Regular eye exams can help maintain and preserve healthy vision as well as identify and treat eye problems before they lead to permanent vision loss. Poor vision in seniors is associated with an increased risk of falling. Many Medicare Advantage plans offer routine vision coverage as well as an allowance towards eyeglasses and contact lenses.
Schedule a hearing test
Regular hearing checks can identify hearing loss early and prevent further loss. Hearing loss is associated with a decline in cognitive functions, leading to confusion, depression, and social isolation. It has also been associated with a higher incidence of dementia in older adults. Medicare covers diagnostic hearing tests, but a deductible or copay may apply, depending on the type of plan you have. Many Medicare Advantage plans offer discounts for hearing aids.
Update your vaccinations
Our immune systems decline with age, which puts seniors at a higher risk of certain diseases. Consult with your doctor about which vaccines are recommended for you based on your age and risk factors. Medicare covers many vaccines, such as flu, pneumonia, COVID-19, RSV, shingles, and Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis).
Enroll in a fitness class
Staying active has many benefits, including helping you maintain a healthy weight and improving your strength and flexibility. It also leads to improved balance and a reduced risk of falling, slower cognitive decline, and a lower risk of chronic disease due to the effect on your immune system. The social aspects of a fitness class can also benefit your mental well-being by reducing isolation and loneliness.
Many Medicare Advantage plans include free gym memberships through programs like SilverSneakers. Seniors can often find free fitness programs at community centers, senior centers, or a YMCA in their area.
Eat a healthy diet
A healthy diet is important for seniors. It helps them maintain a healthy weight, boosts their immunity, and lowers their risk of developing chronic illnesses.
Medicare covers a nutrition and lifestyle assessment for those with qualifying health conditions, such as kidney disease or diabetes. You’ll also be able to work with a registered dietitian to create a plan for healthy eating.
Your local community center or senior center may offer healthy cooking and nutrition classes. There are also many online resources for healthy recipes and eating plans. Talk to your doctor before making any changes to your diet to gain recommendations specific to your medical history and known health issues.
Food insecurity is growing problem for many seniors in the U.S. It occurs when people don’t have enough money to buy food or when they live in places where healthy food at reasonable prices is not easily accessible. If you are experiencing food insecurity, there may be programs in your area that can help.
Take care of your mental health
There has been much discussion concerning mental health issues in younger age groups, but many seniors also suffer from mental health issues, such as anxiety, stress, and depression. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. Medicare covers one depression screening per year with your primary care doctor. Your regular benefits cover other mental health services (such as counseling and therapy), but they may have out-of-pocket costs, such as copays or deductibles.
Receive help for curbing unhealthy habits like tobacco and alcohol use
For smokers, Medicare covers eight counseling sessions each year to help you quit. If you have a history of tobacco use and meet the necessary criteria, you can also receive a yearly preventive lung cancer screening.
Medicare also covers an alcohol misuse screening and up to four face-to-face counseling sessions with your primary care doctor each year.
Do you have questions about what preventive and wellness benefits your Medicare plan covers? The dedicated team at Healthcare Educators is here to help. Contact us today.