Senior Care Issues: Taking Care of Your Health in 2013

Fighting a Nasty Flu Bugfighting the flu in the elderly  You have probably heard (in the news, if not through personal experience with friends and family) that this flu season is shaping up to be one ugly flu season.  Each day there seem to be more articles, like this one on Florida Today, reiterating the seriousness of the flu and its impacts, particularly on children and the elderly.  The flu started a bit earlier than usual this year and one strain is particularly tough.

About half of reported flu cases are in individuals age 65 and older and about 90% of deaths from flu are in elders.  Flu and other contagious illnesses are especially threatening to those with chronic health conditions and weakened immune systems.

What can you do to stay healthy this flu season?

  • Get vaccinated.  If you have not already received the flu shot, you can still benefit as we are hitting the peak of flu season now.  Medicare covers a yearly flu vaccine.
  • Try to avoid contact with sick people and stay in when you are ill to avoid spreading viruses.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.  Scrub thoroughly for at least 20 seconds (or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, if water is not available).
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes.
  • Rest well and eat well.  Get a varied diet and drink plenty of liquids.
  • Maintain overall good health—address any problems with your doctor, get a checkup and follow treatment plans to keep chronic conditions under control as much as possible.

If you think you are developing flu symptoms, contact your doctor as soon as possible.  Common flu symptoms include: fever of feeling feverish/chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, fatigue (tiredness), headaches.

Medicare Preventative Senior Caresenior care with doctor

Maintaining good health also means practicing preventative care by getting screening tests and recommended vaccinations.  Medicare has been adding to the list of covered preventative senior care services over the last few years.  In 2013, the following services are covered (at no cost to the patient if the provider accepts Medicare assignment):

  • Abdominal aortic aneurysm screening
  • Alcohol misuse screenings and counseling
  • Bone mass measurements (bone density)
  • Cardiovascular disease screenings
  • Cardiovascular disease (behavioral therapy)
  • Colorectal cancer screenings
  • Depression screenings
  • Diabetes screenings
  • Diabetes self-management training 
  • Glaucoma tests
  • HIV screenings
  • Mammograms (screening) 
  • Nutrition therapy services
  • Obesity screenings and counseling
  • One-time “Welcome to Medicare” preventive visit
  • Pap tests and pelvic exams (screening)
  • Prostate cancer screenings
  • Sexually transmitted infections screening and counseling
  • Shots:
    • Flu shots
    • Hepatitis B shots
    • Pneumococcal shots
  • Tobacco use cessation counseling
  • Yearly “Wellness” visit

Make sure to make an appointment with your physician for your wellness review, to plan which preventative screenings and care are right for you.  We have Pinellas County senior transportation services available so that you can always get to those appointments safely!

There are some key areas to preventative senior care which can derail you from good health and safety.  We will be highlighting some areas to monitor and simple tips such as these that can help you stay healthy and safe in your home.  Look for upcoming information on falls prevention and home safety, senior nutrition and medication management.  We also feature aging-in-place technology solutions which are being created to help seniors and home health caregivers more effectively and affordably manage home safety.

You might be interested in grabbing a copy of our “Senior Safety Facts” to learn about some of the areas that most negatively impact seniors.  If you’d like help with any of these areas, call us today at 727-448-0900 for a free in-home assessment or more information!