Have you checked your pressure?

About 1 in 3 U.S. adults have high blood pressure—and you could be one of them. If you haven’t checked your blood pressure lately, now’s the time to take a quick and easy test. High blood pressure usually has no signs or symptoms, but it can lead to a higher risk of heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure.

It’s important for you to know your blood pressure numbers, even when you’re feeling fine. Checking your blood pressure is easy because it’s covered in your “Welcome to Medicare” preventive visit and yearly “wellness” visits at no cost to you.

If you have high blood pressure, you can help 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 Education Month. Find out more about how to fight high blood pressure and get checked today!

Protect your bones, protect your life

Brittle bones could shatter your life. Every year, more Americans are diagnosed with osteoporosis—a disease that causes bones to weaken and become more likely to break. You may not know that you have this “silent” disease until your bones are so weak that a sudden strain, bump, or fall causes your wrist to break or your hip to fracture.

Medicare can help you prevent or detect osteoporosis at an early stage, when treatment works best. Talk to your doctor about getting a bone mass measurement. If you’re at risk, Medicare covers this test once every 24 months (more often if medically necessary) when your doctor or other qualified provider orders it.

May is National Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month. Learn more about your risk for osteoporosis and how to prevent and treat it at the National Osteoporosis Foundation. Watch our short video to learn more about how Medicare can help you protect your bones.

Too old? No such thing!

You can never be too old to improve your physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. May is Older Americans Month, and it’s the perfect time to celebrate the many ways in which older adults can make a big difference. When we come together to celebrate this year’s theme of “Engage at Every Age,” people of all ages can participate in activities that bring our communities together to learn, socialize, and celebrate!

How can you get involved? Start by striving for personal health and wellness. The best way to stay healthy is to live a healthy lifestyle, and we’re here to help! Medicare covers these services to help you get healthier and prevent disease:

Call your doctor today to set up a yearly “Wellness” visit to see if any of these services are right for you. Your doctor can also give you personalized wellness tips. Taking care of your physical and mental health will help give you energy to engage in other areas of your life.

In addition to getting and staying healthy, there are lots of activities you can do to improve your wellbeing and wellbeing of others. Here are a few ideas:

  • Talk to youth in your community who can benefit from hearing about your life experience and wisdom.
  • Invite members of your community to an event, like a meal or special program.
  • Plan a volunteering event, like gardening in your neighborhood or collecting food for those in need.

Get more great ideas on how to get involved in Older Americans Month and more information on this year’s theme of Engage at Every Age. Be sure to take a selfie (or groupie) and post the photo on social media with the hashtag #OAM18! Visit oam.acl.gov to learn more.

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.