Senior Health And Wellness

What To Consider As You Approach Age 65

When approaching the age of 65, this is just another phase of your life that shouldn’t discourage you. With this new phase comes a few things to consider. Being well prepared will help you handle whatever situations may come your way. Below is a list of things that you should review and consider when approaching the age of 65.

  • ENROLL IN MEDICARE.

Medicare is a national health-insurance program administered by the Federal government. Medicare Part A provides coverage for inpatient hospital fees, skilled nursing in certain cases, and hospice services. Medicare Part B provides coverage for outpatient care by doctors and other advanced practice professionals, doctor visits when you are in the hospital,  preventive services (including most vaccines), ambulance services, most drugs administered by health-care provider (such as cancer therapy drugs), kidney dialysis, and durable medical equipment.  Optional Medicare Supplement insurance is also available and can help cover some out-of-pocket expenses not covered by Medicare. Medicare Part D coverage is optional (but for most people necessary) for a monthly premium and helps cover your prescription medication costs. Medicare Part C, also called Managed Medicare or Medicare Advantage, are programs administered by private insurance companies and are alternatives to Medicare Parts A & B; they may also include prescription drug coverage otherwise covered by a Medicare Part D policy.

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  • MAKE COMPLETING YOUR ADVANCE DIRECTIVES DOCUMENTS A PRIORITY.

Advance Directives document your wishes about medical care to your loved ones and health team when you become unable to speak for yourself. Creating clear instructions ahead of time ensures your wishes are respected during a medical crisis or end-of-life care. A written document also eases the burden of decision-making from loved ones, who may be unaware of or disagree with your wishes or with each other.

Your Advance Directives will include at least one of the following:

Living Will. This document describes your preferences regarding pain management, invasive surgery, artificial life support, organ or tissue donation, dementia care, and more. Make sure to keep your living will where your loved ones can easily find it. For more information or to download a copy http://www.caringinfo.org/files/public/ad/New_York.pdf

Health-Care Proxy. Also called a power of attorney, your health-care proxy is a person you trust to be your “proxy”—the person who will make decisions on your behalf about your health care when you are unable to do so, in situations not covered by your Living Will. Talk to this trusted person about your wishes in advance. https://www.health.ny.gov/publications/1430.pdf

Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) instructions. This form https://www.health.ny.gov/forms/doh-3474.pdf instructs your health-care team not to perform CPR and other life-saving measures if your heart stops beating. The document can be added to your medical record.

MOLST (Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment). Honoring patient preferences is a critical element in providing quality end-of-life care. To help physicians and other health care providers discuss and convey your wishes regarding cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and other life-sustaining treatment, the New York State Department of Health has approved a physician and nurse practitioner order form (DOH-5003), Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (MOLST) , which can be used statewide by health care practitioners and facilities. MOLST is intended for patients with serious health conditions who want to avoid or receive any or all life-sustaining treatment. Completion of the MOLST begins with a conversation or a series of conversations between the patient, the patient’s health care agent or surrogate, and a qualified, trained health care professional that defines the patient’s goals for care, reviews possible treatment options on the entire MOLST form, and ensures shared, informed medical decision-making.

  • CONSIDER OR REVIEW/UPDATE LONG-TERM CARE INSURANCE.

Long-term care insurance covers care generally not covered by private health insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid.  It helps cover the cost of nursing-home care, care in an assisted-living facility, and home-care services.  Consult a financial advisor to see if long-term care makes sense for you.

  • FOCUS ON YOUR HEALTH.

It’s never too late to start eating right and incorporating more exercise into your daily life. Research shows that making lifestyle changes in your 60s or 70s can significantly improve your short-term wellbeing and long-term health.

Find out what your cholesterol and blood pressure numbers say about your overall health. Ask your doctor if your body mass index (BMI) and blood-sugar levels are healthy. Schedule your Annual Visit online.

  • Vaccines. Check with your primary care provider to make sure you are up to date with your vaccines.  You should have a tetanus booster every ten years, a series of two pneumonia vaccines after age 65, and if you haven’t already gotten it, your provider will likely recommend a shingles vaccine series as well.
  • Quit smoking. Giving up smoking is one of the best things you can do for your health. It is never too late to quit!
  • Exercise. Start with walking or any activity you enjoy: bowling, gardening, dancing, biking. Even 10 minutes a day can make a difference. Get moving!
  • Watch your diet. Eat more fruits and vegetables, choose lean proteins (examples:  fish and chicken) instead of red meat, and cut out or reduce sugary desserts.
  • Keep yourself hydrated. Dehydration is common among older adults. Water is a better choice than sugary sodas or fruit juices.
  • Wear sunscreen. As we age, our skin is less able to protect itself from UV rays. And remember: tanning beds are no safer than the sun.
  • Reduce or eliminate your intake of alcoholic beverages. Our bodies are less able to process alcohol as we get older. When you drink socially, moderation is key.
  • Stay socially connected. Take Adult Ed classes, join a book group, volunteer in your community, and stay connected with your friends and family.