Understanding Health Conditions and Medicare

Seniors are living longer than ever thanks to more nutritious diets, advances in medicine and more active lifestyles. Even so, one aspect of aging that many older adults can’t escape is a higher risk of health conditions. Certain ailments are brought on by time, but if you are facing a health condition, Medicare can provide coverage to keep you healthy without breaking the bank.

What are the most common health conditions seniors face?

While some health conditions are brought on simply by someone getting older, others are brought on by genetics, lifestyle choices or as the result of another illness. Whatever the case may be, there are certain categories of common health condition that affect seniors.

Cardiovascular: Conditions like heart disease, heart attacks, strokes and coronary artery disease fall into this category. While genetics can be partly the cause of heart issues, these ailments can often be avoided by controlling blood pressure, keeping cholesterol low, quitting smoking and getting enough exercise. When people suffer cardiovascular conditions, there could be a problem with the valves not pumping enough blood, blockages in arteries or a weakening of the muscle.

Mental/cognitive Health: Depression and anxiety can affect seniors later in life. Genetics and family history can cause mental illnesses as can stressful experiences, suffering a serious, possibly fatal illness and poor lifestyle styles. Additionally, older adults can suffer from cognitive decline because of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. When this happens, people lose their memories and often the ability to function physically as well as mentally.

Neuromuscular and musculoskeletal: Neuromuscular conditions include multiple sclerosis, spinal muscular atrophy and others. With these, the nerves are affected and the muscles weaken. This leads to twitching, aches and movement problems. Musculoskeletal conditions include joint disorders like arthritis, bursitis and dislocations. These maladies occur overtime most often in the knees, hips, elbows and shoulders because of injuries, other diseases or genetics.

What are the most common treatments for these health conditions?

There are a variety of treatment options available depending on the health condition and what the best method is. Some of the most common include:

Medication: For almost all health conditions – whether they’re mental, physical or internal – there’s a prescription that can be taken to at least ease the symptoms, if not the root cause. A medication may need to be taken every day for the long-term, such as a statin to lower blood pressure or an antidepressant, or for a specific amount of time like antibiotics, to treat an infection.  It’s important to take the medications as prescribed and let your doctor know if you experience any of the side effects.

Psychological: In some cases, especially when treating mental conditions, psychological treatment may be necessary. This can include group or private therapy. In other situations, it can be beneficial to talk about your problems and find out what’s causing them in order to improve.

Physical therapy: With muscle and skeletal conditions, physical therapy can slow the weakening of muscles to avoid atrophy and keeps joints properly lubricated. These can be simple movements a patient goes through while guided by a professional. It can also include massage and ultrasound.

Lifestyle changes: In order to avoid or slow the progression of some health conditions, lifestyle changes are necessary. This often involves making healthier choices like regularly exercising, eating a well-balanced diet, quitting smoking and drinking and losing weight. Making these changes can improve cardiovascular conditions and ease pain associated with neuromuscular and musculoskeletal conditions. Lifestyle changes can improve confidence as well, which can assist with mental issues.

What help does Medicare provide for these health conditions?

There are a variety of ways Medicare provides coverage and help with these health conditions. When choosing your Medicare plan, it’s important to do your research.

If you have a current health condition or know you are at a higher risk for certain ailments, you’ll want to choose the plan that best suits your needs. You can choose between Original Medicare, various Medicare Advantage plans and Medigap. Keep in mind, if you need medications, they are covered under Medicare Part D, so you’ll want a plan that includes this. You’ll also need to consider how often you see a physician and if you ever need emergency or specialty care. Once you have a list of your needs, you’ll be able to make an informed choice.

Another benefit is that Medicare helps with financial coverage. Health conditions can become very expensive, especially if they were require intense treatment, surgery or hospital stays. Financial burdens can add extra stress, worsening your condition. Medicare helps cover the costs associated with in- and out-patient care, medication, supplies and equipment and other needs, so you won’t have to worry about paying for everything yourself.

Medicare.com provides additional, in-depth information on various health conditions that affect seniors, treatment options and different Medicare plans. This website is a great resource for all of your health condition needs.