| Thu, Apr 05, 2012 @ 09:00 AM

Healthy Living for Healthy Aging with Medicare

Posted by Medicare Made Clear

Healthy Living for Healthy Aging with MedicareEach year on April 7th, the world celebrates World Health Day. On this day, events around the globe mark the importance of health for productive and happy lives.  

World Health Day 2012 is all about aging and health. As world citizens, we face both challenges and opportunities in preparing health and social systems to accommodate our aging populations. As individuals, taking care of our own health may be our biggest contribution.  

What You Can Do

While this is probably not new information, it never hurts to be reminded. You can improve your health and help delay or prevent many diseases by doing the following:

  • Stay active: Do any physical activity you enjoy for 20 to 30 minutes, 5 or 6 days a week. This is good for your heart and for your general well-being. Before you begin, talk to your doctor about the right exercise program for you.

  • Eat well: Eat a healthy diet of different foods. Try to make your plate as colorful as possible with fruits, vegetables, protein (such as lean meat, fish or beans) and whole grains (such as brown rice). Also limit the amount of saturated fat you eat.

  • Keep a healthy weight: Practice portion control when eating. Try to balance the calories you eat with the calories you burn.

  • Don’t smoke: If you smoke, talk with your doctor about getting help to quit. If you don’t smoke, don’t start.

  • Practice prevention: Get regular preventive care and services, which can help protect you from illnesses and find disease early so it can be treated.

  This is all well and good. But how do you get started? How do you decide what to work on and set realistic goals? And most importantly, how do stay on track?  

Your first action should be to talk to your doctor. Together you can discuss your health status and create a plan of action and a follow-up plan that can help keep you focused and accountable.  

Once you get going and start to feel the difference that even small changes can make, you may find that your inner motivation naturally takes over. That’s when those small changes can become permanent, life-enhancing lifestyle changes.  

Medicare Can Help

Medicare Part B covers many preventive services designed to help you stay healthy. You pay a monthly premium for Part B. Beyond this, most preventive services cost you nothing. No deductible. No copay.  

Your annual wellness visit is a preventive service that you should be sure to take advantage of every year. This is where you and your doctor can assess your health, discuss your concerns, create a plan and determine what other services you may need.  

In addition to the wellness visit, some of the covered preventive services you can get include:

  • Mammograms, colonoscopies and other cancer screenings

  • Heart health screenings and total cholesterol tests (every five years)

  • Diabetes screenings and self-management training

  • Flu and other preventive shots

  • Stop smoking counseling

Medicare Advantage Plans Offer Extra Benefits

If you receive your Medicare benefits through a Medicare Advantage plan (Part C), you may have access to even more health-enhancing benefits. In addition to the preventive services provided under Medicare Part B, many plans offer gym memberships; exercise programs; vision, hearing and dental care; and more. See your specific plan for details.  

For more information, contact the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048. If you have questions about Medicare Made Clear call 1-877-619-5582, TTY 711, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. local time, seven days a week.    

Resources:

Overview of Medicare Part B: MedicareMadeClear.com

Medicare & You 2012: The official U.S. government Medicare handbook

Your Guide to Medicare’s Preventive Services: Government booklet about disease prevention, preventive services covered by Medicare and more.

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