Think before you drink

A lot of changes happen with age, like pain, loss of mobility, and loneliness. Sometimes, this can lead to alcohol misuse. As you get older, you may become more sensitive to alcohol, and your regular drinking habits could become a problem.

Medicare covers alcohol misuse screening & counseling to provide counseling for people who misuse alcohol. Older adults who drink may be at a higher risk for falls or other injuries. Alcohol can also make some health problems worse, like diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart problems. It can also cause dangerous interactions when mixed with prescription or over-the-counter medications. 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 now is the perfect time to get help and stay healthy.

At risk for diabetes? Take this quick test.

Diabetes affects 29 million people in the U.S.—are you one of them? Tuesday, March 28 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. 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.

Know your rights and protections

Did you know that Medicare works hard to protect your rights? Knowing about these safeguards will go a long way to help keep you, your privacy, and your identity safe. It’s National Consumer Protection Week, so this is a great time to learn about your Medicare rights.

No matter how you get your Medicare, you have rights and protections that:

  • Protect you when you get health care.
  • Make sure you get the health care services that the law says you can get.
  • Protect you against unethical practices.
  • Protect your privacy.

You can also file a complaint if you have a concern about the quality of care or other services you get from a Medicare provider. If you believe your care wasn’t covered but should’ve been, then you can file an appeal. The Medicare Beneficiary Ombudsman can help you with your rights and protections.

Be a smart and safe health care consumer; understand your rights and protections.

 

5 ways you can prevent colorectal cancer

Did you know that colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among men and women in the United States? Make sure you’re doing everything you can to prevent it, including getting help from Medicare.

Colorectal cancer affects people in all racial and ethnic groups and is most often found in people age 50 and older. It’s 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

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.

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

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, ask your doctor if you’re eligible for Medicare’s kidney education sessions. Medicare’s kidney education can teach you how to take the best possible care of your kidneys and give you information you need to make informed decisions about your care. Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) covers up to 6 kidney disease education sessions, if you have Stage IV chronic kidney disease. Session topics include:

  1. How to manage other diseases related to your kidney disease, like diabetes and high blood pressure
  2. How to prevent complications of kidney disease
  3. How your kidneys work
  4. What to eat and drink
  5. How your prescription drugs work
  6. What options you have if your kidneys get worse, like dialysis and kidney transplants

March is National Kidney Month. Learn more about kidney disease, and Medicare-covered kidney services to be sure you’re making educated choices about your kidney health.

Want a healthier lifestyle? Medicare can help.

“Health is wealth,” the old saying goes. However, the wealth of food choices in the U.S. doesn’t always contribute to the health of Americans. In fact, 69% of adults are considered overweight or obese. Finding little time to exercise or prepare balanced meals, and using cars instead of walking has contributed to this epidemic.

An unhealthy body weight can increase your risk of having serious health conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, and some types of cancer.

With all the information available on eating healthy and exercising, it’s sometimes hard to come up with a plan that will work for you. Not sure how to get started? Medicare can help.

Medicare covers obesity screening and counseling. These behavioral counseling sessions can help you lose weight if you have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more.

Making small changes and celebrating along the way can help you achieve goals and maintain your success. MyPlate MyWins offers tools and tips for finding a healthy eating style. And, the resources at Eat right® can help you increase your nutrition know-how, shop wiser at the grocery store, and prepare healthy meals for your family.

Celebrate National Nutrition Month by adding healthy eating and regular exercise to your lifestyle.

Save lives—become a donor

Right now, there are over 118,000 people waiting for life-saving organ transplants, and many more who need cornea, tissue, bone marrow, blood, and platelet donations. Registering as a donor means you can help save up to 8 lives through organ donations and help countless others.

There are 2 ways to become a donor:

  1. Deceased organ donors—can donate both kidneys, liver, both lungs, heart, pancreas, and intestines.
  2. Living organ donors—can donate one kidney, one lung, or a portion of the liver, pancreas, or intestine.

Over 80% of people on the transplant list need a kidney transplant, usually due to permanent kidney failure or End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD). Medicare covers kidney transplants for both the person getting the transplant and the donor. If you’re getting the transplant, you pay 20% of the Medicare-approved amount for doctor services. You pay nothing if you’re the living donor.

Celebrate National Donor Day on February 14th by giving the gift of life—sign up to become an organ donor today.