Protect your bones, protect your life

Will a silent disease shatter your life?  Every year, a growing number of Americans are finding out that they have osteoporosis-a disease that causes bones to weaken and be more likely to break.  Medicare can help you prevent or detect osteoporosis at an early stage, when treatment works best.  Learn the facts so you can protect your bones!

Many people believe:

  • Osteoporosis is a natural part of aging that only affects older women
  • Bone loss can’t be treated once it starts
  • The only risk of osteoporosis is broken bones from falls

None of these myths are true.  What is true is:

  • While 1 in 3 women over 50 will develop osteoporosis, 1 in 5 men will, too
  • It is possible to make bones stronger
  • Around 25 % of people die within the first 6 to 12 months after a hip fracture

Fortunately, there are many ways to prevent or lessen the severity of osteoporosis.  Making sure you get enough calcium, vitamin D, and exercise are 3 important ways to make your bones stronger.  May is National Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month.  Talk to your doctor about getting a bone mass measurement—it may be free.

Older Americans Month: Safe Today. Healthy Tomorrow.

Have you ever had an injury from a fall or another kind of an accident? Each year, accidents like falls result in at least 6 million medically-treated injuries and more than 30,000 deaths. Many of these unintentional injuries happen to older Americans.

Every May, we recognize older Americans for their contributions and demonstrate our nation’s commitment to helping them stay healthy and active.  This year, our theme is “Safe Today. Healthy Tomorrow.”  We want to help you learn about safety and injury prevention so that you can protect yourself and remain active and independent for as long as possible.

Here are 5 things you can do to be safe today:

  1. Talk to your doctor about activities that are appropriate for you.
  2. Manage your medications.
  3. Prevent falls.
  4. Prevent fires and burns.
  5. Drive wisely.

Learn more about these 5 safety tips so that you’ll be healthy tomorrow. You can also visit www.eldercare.gov to get information about services for older Americans in your area.

Your mind matters – and Medicare is here to help!

Reminders to take care of your physical health are all around you– on the web, in television ads, and from concerned family members. What you may not remember is that taking care of your mental health is just as important! May is National Mental Health Month, so we’re making an effort to spread the word about all of the mental health resources available to people with Medicare.

Medicare helps cover outpatient and inpatient mental health care, as well as partial hospitalization and screenings for depression. If you have Medicare prescription drug coverage, you can also get medications to help treat a mental health condition.

Mental health includes your emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how you think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how you handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. If you experience mental health problems your thinking, mood, and behavior could be affected.

- Mental health problems are common and can be caused by many factors:

- Biological factors, such as genes or brain chemistry

- Life experiences, such as trauma or abuse

- Family history of mental health problems

 

Remember: taking care of your health is about more than just your physical health – it’s about taking care of all of you! Medicare is here to help you take care of your mental health, and remind you that you’re not alone — we’re here to support you.

Protect yourself from Hepatitis B

Did you know that 1.2 million people in the U.S. have chronic Hepatitis B, but many more people don’t know they’re infected because they have no symptoms? Hepatitis B is a contagious liver disease that can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a serious illness that can lead to liver disease or liver cancer.

Medicare can help keep you protected from Hepatitis B. The best way to prevent Hepatitis B is by getting the Hepatitis B vaccine, which is usually given as 3 shots over a 6-month period. You need to get all 3 shots for complete coverage. If you’re at high or medium risk for Hepatitis B, Medicare Part B will cover Hepatitis B shots for free.

Are you at risk for getting Hepatitis B? If you have hemophilia, End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD), diabetes, or certain conditions that lower your resistance to infection, you have a higher risk for getting Hepatitis B increases. Additionally, if you have a profession that puts you in frequent contact with blood or bodily fluids, you may be at a higher risk.

May is Hepatitis Awareness month. To find out more about preventing and treating Hepatitis B, visit the Centers for Disease Control.

What’s your blood pressure?

Do you have a minute to keep your heart and kidneys healthy?  Getting a fast (less than a minute) and simple test can tell you if your blood pressure is too high.  High blood pressure usually has no signs or symptoms, but it can lead to a higher risk of heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure.  Medicare helps make checking your blood pressure easy because it’s covered in your “Welcome to Medicare” and Yearly Wellness  visits at no cost to you.

If you have high blood pressure, you can control it with lifestyle changes and medicine.  You may be at risk for high blood pressure if you:

  • Smoke
  • Eat salty foods
  • Don’t exercise enough
  • Drink more than a moderate amount of alcohol
  • Have a family history of high blood pressure
  • Are overweight

May is National High Blood Pressure Awareness Month, so get tested and keep your heart and kidneys healthy!

Alcohol misuse, it’s okay to talk about it

 “Risky drinking” is defined as more than 21 drinks per month according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the American Geriatrics Society. Did you know that 9% of people with Medicare drink more than 30 drinks a month?

There are lots of changes that happen with age, and some of them, like physical pain, loss of mobility, and loneliness can lead to alcohol misuse.  Drinking too much alcohol increases your risk of injuries, violence, drowning, liver disease, bad interactions with medications, and some types of cancer. 

April is Alcohol Awareness Month, and it’s the perfect time to remind you that Medicare covers alcohol misuse screening & counselling to provide counselling for people who misuse alcohol.

Making complaints less complex

We hope every healthcare experience you have is a positive one. That’s why we offer you a variety of tools to express your concerns. One of those tools is the ability to file a complaint (sometimes called a “grievance”).

Do you have a complaint?

If you have a concern or a problem that isn’t a request for coverage or reimbursement, you have the right to file a complaint. Not sure if you need to file a complaint or an appeal? Read some examples of situations where you might need to file a complaint.

Things to know before you file a complaint:

Each plan has specific rules you’ll need to know and follow when filing a complaint. If, after filing a complaint, your plan doesn’t address the issue, call 1-800-MEDICARE for assistance. You can also call your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) for free, personalized help filing a complaint.

Information you’ll need to have ready when you file a complaint:

Basic information about you

  • First and last name
  • Date of birth
  • State you live in
  • Zip code
  • Email address
  • Preferred call back time, phone number, and response language

Medicare card information

  • Medicare number
  • Effective date

Health or drug plan information

  • Your health or drug plan name
  • Your health or drug plan contract ID

Complaint topic

  • Benefits
  • Prescription drugs
  • Services
  • Something else

Medicare’s Blue Button can help

The Blue Button provides you an easy way to download your personal health information to a file. You can download the file of your personal data and save the file on your own personal computer. You can access the Blue Button through your account on MyMedicare.gov.