Preventive Medicine Can Help Single Baby Boomers Age Gracefully.

Preventive Medicine Can Help Single Baby Boomers Age Gracefully.

If you’re one of the lucky single Baby Boomers who’s been able to have and keep health insurance, then you’ve been able to have the immunizations, maintenance medications, medical attention and tests suggested by the CDC-Center for Disease Control.  Many single lost their benefits when they were divorced, their spouses died or they didn’t have a job that offered insurance.  When you reach 65 then Medicare can help, but there still are extra costs even if you have a supplement or an Advantage Plan.  Finding the right insurance plan before and after 65 can be overwhelming, since you’re out there alone looking through a myriad of options.  If you have Medicare, it does cover several preventative tests and shots totally and getting extra coverage can give you discounts on more.  You’ll need to ask your doctor’s insurance department or Medicare what’s covered and I recommend doing it before it’s actually needed.  You don’t want any surprises if a bill arrives.  Here’s a bit of advice from my father who owned an insurance business that sold multiple types of insurance.  He used to say that you should always wait until you’re sure that insurance has paid everything before you pay a bill.  He loved to argue with the doctor’s billing department and insurance companies after he retired.  It only frustrates me, but if you’ve the patience, you may be able to get bills reduced or set up payment plans.

I have to admit that since I lived in the time of affordable insurance and mostly worked for a school system, I always had excellent insurance and was able to get everything that was recommended by my doctor or the CDC.  I know there are many people who don’t believe in putting anything in their body that isn’t natural and control their blood pressure, cholesterol and other medical conditions through diet and exercise.  It’d be wonderful if we all could, but if that’s not possible, then taking your maintenance drugs on a regular schedule is important to good health.  Immunizations for the flu, shingles and pneumonia are also recommended for people in poor health and at certain ages for older Baby Boomers.  If you’re traveling overseas check The CDC Travelers’ Health Website, http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/list, for the recommended immunizations needed.   Here are some other tests that the CDC recommends taken from their website.

If you’ve ever smoked, talk with your physician about abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA).  Recommended for: Men aged 65-75 who’ve ever smoked tobacco.   Ask the doctor about screening for lung cancer if you’ve a history of heavy smoking and you smoke now or have quit within the past 15 years. An example of heavy smoking is smoking 1 pack of cigarettes a day for 30 years – or 2 packs a day for 15 years.  Recommended for: Adults aged 55-80 who’ve smoked heavily.  If you use tobacco, ask your doctor about services to help you quit.

If you’re concerned about your drinking, ask your doctor about screening and counseling. Recommended for: Adults.

Talk to your physician about taking an aspirin every day to help lower your risk of heart attack or stroke. Recommended for: Men aged 45-79 and women aged 55-79.

Get your blood pressure checked at least once every 1-2 years or ask your doctor how often you need to get checked. Recommended for: Adults.   If you’ve high blood pressure, ask your M.D. if you need to be screened for type 2 diabetes.

Cholesterol should be checked once every 5 years.  Recommended for: Men aged 35 and older and men and women at high risk aged 20 and older.  If your health care specialist has told you that you’re also at risk for heart disease or diabetes, ask about dietary counseling.

Get Tested for Colorectal Cancer.  Talk with your doctor about options for getting tested. Recommended for: Adults aged 50-75.

Ask your M.D. if you need to be tested for chlamydia, gonorrhea, or syphilis.   Get tested for HIV at least once. You may need to get tested more often depending on your risk.  Recommended for: Adults who have had sex or are at high risk.

Get tested for hepatitis C at least one time if you were born between 1945 and 1965. Recommended for: Adults born between 1945 and 1965.

Talk with your health care specialist about depression if you’re feeling sad, down, or hopeless for an extended period of time.  Recommended for: Adults.

If you’re worried about falls, ask how exercise, physical therapy and vitamin D supplements might help you prevent falls.   Recommended for: Adults over 65.

If you’ve fair skin, talk to the doctor about how to reduce your risk for skin cancer.  Recommended for: Adults over 24 years old with fair skin.

Here are the recommended tests for women:

See a doctor or nurse for a Well Woman checkup once a year.  Recommended for: Women under 65.

Get your bone density tested starting at age 65.  Recommended for: Women over 65 and younger women at high risk.

Talk with your doctor if you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer. You may want to get genetic testing for breast and ovarian cancer:  Get a mammogram every 2 years.  Recommended for: All women aged 50-74.

Get a Pap test every 3 years. If you’re age 30 or older and get a Pap test and an HPV test, you can get screened every 5 years instead.  Recommended for: Women aged 21-65.

For men, the “CDC and other federal agencies follow the prostate cancer screening recommendations set forth by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which recommends against prostate specific antigen (PSA)-based screening for men who do not have symptoms. Other organizations, like the American Urological Association, the American Cancer Society, and the American College of Physicians may have other recommendations. Talk to your doctor.”

My recommendation:  Don’t forget about your annual vision and dental screenings.  We’re going to need healthy choppers for all of the holiday food.  As someone who’s just used reading glasses, I’ve come to the conclusion that the world would be a lot clearer all the time if I finally broke down and got some prescription glasses.  This week I’m taking my ophthalmologist’s advice and getting a pair of glasses.

Now you’ve seen the recommendations, so you have to make your own decision based on your needs and unfortunately, ability to pay.  As I’ve said in a previous blog, being single makes it even more important that you can take care of yourself.  As single Baby Boomers, we want to live on our own for as long as possible.  Even if we’ve a great, close knit family, we don’t want to live with a relative or depend on them for anything.  This makes it even more important to stay healthy, so we can continue to live the life we worked all of our lives to attain.

Next week we’ll discuss how you plan to spend the holidays as a single Baby Boomer.  Hopefully, you have many choices, but as a single person it’s nice to be able to do what you really want.  This may not be as easy as it sounds due to family or job commitments, finances or being new to an area.  Please let me know what you plan to do and what affects your decision.  Your responses will be anonymous, so don’t worry about sharing your answers.

Have a wonderful week.  I’m looking forward to a trip to Sedona, AZ with a dear friend.  I hope you’re planning something special.  Anticipation is one of my favorite parts of any adventure.

Linda Lea

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