We lost a beloved California legend and TV host and producer Huell Howser to prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is one of the leading forms of cancer in men over the age of 50 and if detected early can be highly treatable. This isn’t just restricted to prostate cancer, there are many other health issues that can be avoided or controlled by making sure you know the current state of your body. All too often, doctors utter the painful words ‘if we had caught it earlier.’
This is why it’s important for seniors to take advantage of annual free screenings. Early detection of diseases can save time, money, and most importantly it can save your life and can help keep you healthy and an independent individual. Early detection increases the chance that a condition can be cured or successfully managed. Also, getting regular checkups can help your doctor identify lifestyle changes that can lead to certain conditions. In some diseases, early detection can increase survival rate by as much as 98 percent.
Currently, the Affordable Care Act gives Medicare recipients an opportunity to take advantage of services specialized in preventive health, which are all at no cost to patients. These include free annual wellness visits, free preventive care and free screenings with an A or B recommendation from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF). Medicare recipients might otherwise pay up to $300 in out-of-pocket for these screenings.
Other services available to Medicare-aged seniors include mammogram screenings, colorectal cancer screenings, bone mass analysis and much more.
If the monetary savings don’t convince you, let’s look a little closer at the real benefits in terms of health and long term wellness:
- Screening can reduce the incidence and mortality of colorectal cancer by as much as 35 to 75 percent. Unfortunately, only 45 to 55 percent of adults in the U.S. have been appropriately screened for colorectal cancer.
- 64 percent of women and 50 percent of men who died suddenly of a heart attack had no prior knowledge of their heart disease.
- Treatments to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease are most effective in the early stages of the disease.
- Early detection of diabetes can significantly reduce the chances of developing complications associated with the disease.
- Equally as important is mental health. Early detection of depression in the elderly is commonly overlooked, yet suicide rates are alarmingly high among seniors.
Even with all the compelling reasons to get preventative screenings seniors often don’t take advantage of health enhancing techniques. Don’t let this happen to you or someone you love. Take the following three steps to stay healthy:
1. Schedule your annual wellness visits. During your annual wellness visit a medical professional can help assess your medical and family history, which will determine your risk factors.
2. Create a calendar for your annual screenings and schedule them in advance. These are some of the most important steps you can take to care for your health and well being.
Conditions, such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes account for 75 percent of health care spending in the United States. Preventative healthcare is always better than treatment of a chronic disease. Healthier people spend less on healthcare. Ignoring your health can result in significant and sometimes fatal consequences.
Medicare covers a variety of preventative screenings including diabetes, cancer and glaucoma. Following is a list of common screenings and preventative care services available to you. Take the list with you to your next doctor’s appointment and ask your doctor to help you create a plan that is right for you.
Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Screening
Bone Mass Measurement
Colorectal Cancer Screening
Fecal Occult Blood Test
Diabetes Self-management Training
Hepatitis B Shot
Medical Nutrition Therapy Services
Pap Test and Pelvic Exam (includes breast exam)
Physical Exam: Yearly “Wellness” exam
Prostate Cancer Screening
Smoking Cessation Counseling
Knowledge is power. Take advantage of annual free screenings as the extra step can save your life. Also, don’t be afraid to ask your doctor questions. Patients who ask questions significantly improve their overall healthcare. Sometimes when it comes to preventative healthcare, the most important question is: What are you waiting for?
Article From Inter Valley Health Plan