Reduce your sugar and sodium intake. Drink more water. Get moving. Log eight hours of sleep.
There are so many health messages clamoring for our attention on a daily basis, even the most health conscious person can feel overwhelmed. The older we get, many of us adopt the attitude that there is not much we can do to control or improve our health.
Now stop right there!
One simple way to take care of yourself and stay healthy is to team up with your doctor to get the screenings and vaccines needed to detect and prevent illness. And as a result of the new health care law, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), everyone on Medicare can take advantage of free preventive health benefits. To find out specifically how ACA will personally impact your health care options, visit www.aarp.org/healthlawguide.
If you are insured by Medicare, set aside some time to learn about all Medicare offers you at www.aarp.org/Medicare.
But before adding another thing to your to-do list, spend a few minutes and continue reading about three easy-to-follow tips for staying healthy.
AARP Staying Healthy Tip: New Medicare beneficiaries should schedule a “Welcome to Medicare” appointment with your doctor during your first year of coverage.
The one-time “Welcome to Medicare” preventive visit is free for patients whose doctors accept Medicare, but it must be conducted within the first 12 months after enrolling in Part B. At this visit, your doctor should:
• complete a comprehensive review of your medical and family health history;
• check your height, weight and blood pressure;
• calculate your body mass index;
• do a simple vision test;
• give you advice to help you prevent disease, improve your health and stay well; and
• make appropriate referrals when necessary.
Also, find out what vaccines and screenings you need, when you need them, and how frequently. Your doctor may suggest recommended vaccines to prevent flu and pneumonia and schedule screenings or tests such as cardiovascular screening, blood pressure, blood cholesterol, body mass index (BMI), diabetes screening, colorectal cancer screening. Additionally, your Medicare co-payment may vary depending on the type of screening and treatment provided. For example, if your doctor finds a benign growth during your colorectal cancer screening, he or she may remove it at that time and you may need to pay the Medicare co-payment for this extra procedure. Paying a copayment today for a preventive screening is a good investment in a healthier tomorrow.
Visit AARP’s website to learn more about Medicare at www.aarp.org/medicare. To make your voice heard on the future of Medicare and Social Security visit www.earnedasay.org.
Nicole Duritz, Vice President of Health at AARP, leads the Association’s member and consumer health education and outreach program, which includes work on issues such as Medicare, new health care law, prescription drug affordability, long term care, prevention and wellness, and wise use of medications.