Remember the classic cars when you were young? With the right maintenance, some are still running decades after they first hit the road.
The same can be true for us as we age. Preventive steps – regular checkups, eating right, getting rest and exercise – can help you enjoy better health and independent living longer.
If you’ve ever wondered how seniors can stay healthy, read on for some vital senior health tips, along with how to a find a doctor near you who accepts Medicare plans.
See your doctor, regularly
If you’re on Medicare, you can see your doctor at least once a year for a wellness visit free of charge. During the visit, the doctor will go over various things that could impact your health. It’s a great way for you and your doctor to stay on top of your health and to catch potential problems before they become more serious.
This is a chance for your doctor to give you personalized health advice and to keep you on track with needed health screenings and vaccinations.
Your doctor may also:
- Review your medical history, current providers and prescriptions.
- Review your family history.
- Measure your height, weight, blood pressure and other vital signs.
- Perform a cognitive assessment to check for signs of dementia.
- Give you a list of risk factors and treatment options.
- Discuss advance care planning.
What are the healthiest foods for seniors?
Eating healthy becomes increasingly important as your body ages and your nutritional needs change. Being overweight or obese increases your risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, kidney disease, certain cancers and dementia. Being underweight can lead to weakness and bone loss.
Healthy eating, including heart-healthy foods for seniors, is important for your body to get the nutrients it needs and can help you maintain healthy body weight.
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases recommends older adults eat foods rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Whole grains
- Fish, lean meats, poultry and eggs
- Beans, peas, unsalted nuts and seeds
- Fat-free or low-fat milk; milk products; or nondairy soy, almond, rice or other drinks with added vitamin D and calcium
Even though they’re tempting, it’s best to avoid foods and drinks sweetened with sugar, fried foods and foods made with solid fats like butter, lard, shortening or margarine.
Get your shots
A lot of us don’t like needles, but getting your shots can be a life saver. Seniors are particularly vulnerable to serious illness and death from the flu, COVID-19 and pneumonia. The good news is you can get many shots for free when you’re on Medicare from value-based care clinics.
Not only can vaccinations keep you from getting seriously ill, but they can prevent you from making your loved ones sick. Medicare provides these vaccinations free if your provider accepts assignment:
- Flu shot
- Covid-19 shot and booster
- Pneumococcal shot
You also can get a free Hepatitis B shot when you’re on Medicare and at medium or high risk for infection. Risk factors include diabetes, hemophilia, End-Stage Renal Disease, living with someone who has Hepatitis B or working in health care, and having frequent contact with bodily fluids.
Moving around is good for you, so make time for physical activity. Regular exercise, even for a few minutes a day, can help you keep your bones and muscles strong, reduce the risk of falls and live independently.
Walking, gardening and yard work are popular physical activities for seniors, and there are many basic exercises that you can do in your own home. Or you can join a gym or workout class. Exercising with others is a great way to bolster your mental health, and some Medicare Advantage plans cover fitness memberships.
Aerobic, flexibility and muscle-strengthening exercises benefit seniors in many ways:
- Stronger and healthier muscles, bones and joints
- Controlled joint swelling and pain from arthritis
- More energy and improved stamina
- Improved brain function
- Lower blood pressure
- Improved mood and sense of well-being
- Lower risk of dying from coronary heart disease
- Lower risk of developing colon cancer or diabetes
- Improved balance
Don’t forget your mental health
Mental health isn’t always easy to manage, and aging brings its own concerns, but you don’t have to let anxiety and depression consume your senior years.
Medicare covers a free depression screening once every year if your provider accepts assignment, meaning they take direct payment of the Medicare-approved amount from Medicare.
Part B coverage also helps pays for psychiatric evaluations, individual and group psychotherapy, family therapy, medication management, partial hospitalization and other mental health services. After meeting your deductible, you pay 20 percent of the Medicare-approved amount.
Medicare Part A covers hospitalization for mental health treatment.
How can I find a primary care doctor near me who accepts Medicare patients?
NewPrimaryCare.com™ can help you find a quality primary care doctor who accepts Medicare and provides preventive care for seniors.
Our partner providers practice value-based care, meaning Medicare rewards them for helping their patients live healthier lives. With a value-based care doctor, you’ll have time to discuss your specific health needs and goals because your Medicare doctor is focused on you instead of the number of patients coming through the office.
You can expect quicker appointment scheduling, shorter waits at the doctor’s office and personal attention from a caring physician.
Use our Find Your Doctor tool to search for and compare value-based care providers near you.