Rethink drinking

As you get older, alcohol may start to effect you differently. You may become more sensitive to it, and your regular drinking habits could become a problem. Drinking too much alcohol can cause falls and fractures. Alcohol can also cause dangerous interactions when mixed with prescription or over-the-counter medications. Over a long time, it can also lead to some cancers, liver and brain damage, osteoporosis, and strokes.

Medicare covers alcohol misuse screening & counseling to provide counseling for people who misuse alcohol. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism recommends adults 65 and over who are healthy and don’t take medications have no more than 3 drinks on a given day or 7 drinks in a week.

If you think you or a loved one could be misusing alcohol, don’t be ashamed to ask for help. April is Alcohol Awareness Month, and Medicare’s here to help you stay safe and healthy.

At risk for diabetes? Take this quick test.

Diabetes affects over 30 million people in the U.S.—are you one of them? Tuesday, March 27 is American Diabetes Association Alert Day, and it’s a great time to take the Diabetes Risk Test to find out if you’re at risk for developing type 2 diabetes, a disease where blood glucose levels are higher than normal. Knowing your risk is the first step. Type 2 diabetes develops most often in middle-aged and older adults.

Many people with diabetes don’t know that they have it, but Medicare covers screening tests so you can find out if you do.

If you have diabetes, Medicare covers many of your supplies, including insulin, test strips, monitors, lancets and control solutions. In some cases, Medicare also covers therapeutic shoes if you have diabetic foot problems. You pay 20% of the Medicare-approved amount for these supplies.

Medicare also covers diabetes self-management training to help you learn how to better manage your diabetes. You can learn how to monitor your blood sugar, control your diet, exercise, and manage your prescriptions. Talk to your doctor about how this training can help you stay healthy and avoid serious complications.

Take control of your health—talk to your doctor today about screening tests and what supplies and training may help you stay healthy.

Medicare helps you get smart about kidney disease

Did you know that 1 in 3 American adults is at risk for kidney disease? Major risk factors for kidney disease include diabetes, high blood pressure, a family history of kidney failure and being 60 or older. The best way to fight kidney disease is to find it before trouble starts. But, if you’ve already been diagnosed, Medicare is here to help you make informed decisions about your care.

If you have Stage IV chronic kidney disease that will usually require dialysis or a kidney transplant, Medicare covers up to 6 kidney disease education sessions that teach you how to take the best possible care of your kidneys. Sessions include topics like how to prevent complications of kidney disease, what to eat and drink, and what options you have if your kidneys get worse, like dialysis and kidney transplants.

If you or a loved one has advanced kidney problems requiring dialysis, often known as End-stage Renal Disease (ESRD), finding the right care can be a challenge. Dialysis centers can vary in the quality of care and services they provide, so it’s important to understand the differences in dialysis centers in your area before you decide where to go for care. If you’re already on dialysis, it’s also important to understand the quality of care that your dialysis center delivers. Medicare’s Dialysis Facility Compare lets you easily search for dialysis centers, compare them side by side, and find the right one for you. The information includes feedback from patients – you can see how dialysis patients respond to a survey that asked questions about their dialysis center, their kidney doctor, and the center’s staff.

March is National Kidney Month, so there’s no better time to get smart about kidney disease. Learn more about kidney disease, Dialysis Facility Compare, and Medicare-covered kidney services to be sure you’re making educated choices about your kidney health.

Healthy Eating Solutions – Medicare can help!

As American lifestyles have gotten busier, the demand for food that can be purchased and eaten quickly—known as fast food–has gained speed, too. With today’s hectic schedules, it can be hard to find time to prepare a healthy meal or exercise. If you need an eating and activity plan that will work for you, Medicare can help.

Medicare covers medical nutrition therapy (MNT) services for people with diabetes or kidney disease. MNT services may include an initial nutrition and lifestyle assessment, one-on-one nutrition counseling, and follow-up visits to check on your progress. Find out if you qualify for these services.

During 2007-2010, American adults consumed an average of 11% of their total daily calories from fast food. More than one-third of U.S. adults are obese, and frequently eating fast food has been shown to contribute to weight gain.

Carrying extra body weight can lead to serious health conditions like diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and some types of cancer.

If you need help getting started, MyPlate MyWins offers tips on how to make small changes to improve your diet and find healthy food choices wherever your day may take you. Also, the resources at Eat Right® can help you improve your eating style while reducing food waste.

Celebrate National Nutrition Month by making good food choices and adding regular exercise to your lifestyle. Small changes can bring good rewards.

5 ways to lower your risk of colon cancer

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in the U.S. and the second leading cause of death from cancer. Colorectal cancer affects all racial and ethnic groups and is most often found in people 50 and older.

The best way to prevent colorectal cancer is to get screened regularly starting at age 50. There are often no signs or symptoms of colorectal cancer—that’s why it’s so important to get screened. You don’t have to do it alone—Medicare covers colorectal cancer screenings to help you detect and prevent colorectal cancer, and you’ll pay nothing for most of them.

March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, so this is a great time to do 5 things to stop this cancer in its tracks.

  1. Get screened
  2. Exercise
  3. Maintain a healthy weight
  4. Don’t drink too much alcohol
  5. Don’t smoke

Do what you can so you’re not one of the 140,000 Americans diagnosed with colorectal cancer every year, and let Medicare help.

Spring into action with an ounce of prevention

Spring is a season of new beginnings and growth, bringing us longer hours of daylight, sprouting tulips, and warmer weather. It’s the perfect time to renew your commitment to better health, and practice preventive care. Preventive services are valuable to your wellbeing, because they can help you keep from getting sick and find health problems early, when treatment works best. Taking advantage of them is a crucial step in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and every little bit helps.

When you have Medicare, you have access to a variety of preventive tests and screenings, most at no cost to you. If you’re new to Medicare, we cover a “Welcome to Medicare” preventive visit during your first 12 months of Part B coverage. This visit includes a review of your medical and social history related to your health and education and counseling about preventive services, including certain screenings, shots, and referrals for other care, if needed.

If you’ve had Part B for longer than 12 months, you can get a yearly wellness visit to develop or update a personalized prevention plan based on your current health and risk factors. In addition to these important wellness visits, Medicare covers screening tests for diabetes, colon cancer, breast cancer, osteoporosis, heart disease, and obesity management, just to name a few. Check out our complete list of Medicare-covered preventive services and watch our preventive benefits video.

As the saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Start this spring by practicing preventive care, so you can you stay healthy and live longer.

 

Focus on keeping your vision clear

Glaucoma is a group of diseases that can cause permanent vision loss and blindness. Some forms of glaucoma don’t have any symptoms, so you may still have glaucoma even if you don’t have any trouble seeing or feel any pain. If you find and get treatment for glaucoma early, you can protect your eyes from serious vision loss.

January is glaucoma awareness month, and it’s the perfect time to check and see if you’re at high risk. You’re at high risk for glaucoma if one or more of these applies to you:

  • You have diabetes.
  • You have a family history of glaucoma.
  • You’re African American and 50 or older.
  • You’re Hispanic and 65 or older.

Medicare will cover a glaucoma test once every 12 months if you’re at high risk. Talk to your doctor or eye doctor for more information about scheduling a test.

To learn more, read about glaucoma, or watch our glaucoma awareness video.