As seniors grow older, they need education on specific topics like how to manage chronic conditions, how to find support, and guidance from health care providers. In recent years, medical professionals have been better at assessing an older patient’s status, circumstances and issues. The screening process that Medicare created for Wellness Checks has influenced the Medicare Advantage Insurance companies.
This past week I had a Medicare Wellness Checkup, but my doctor went much further into the assessment. She said my Advantage Plan now requires a 30 question survey. It was filled with queries about safety at home, threats or abuse by anyone where I live, eating habits, ability to pay for food and bills, and a lot more. The feeling was of relief because someone is looking out for my best interests. Annual checkups have come a long way.
If you don’t receive surveys like this during your annual doctor visit, tell the medical staff they should add a social status questionnaire for seniors as a precautionary measure.
Some of the worrisome concerns most seniors have:
– Ageism — we desire recognition for our strengths and given a chance to offer our skills and to give back and be a productive member of society.
– Remain healthy without resorting to medication or surgery — we would enjoy learning alternatives to going under the knife or consuming various meds.
– Learn how others cope with issues, challenges; what worked for them, and then decide if it’s a good fit for us. And if the solution is not a fit, what other options might work?
– Discover useful local and national resources — we’d like to learn about community services, especially the ones that help us age in place. Some seniors don’t have advocates or family members who can research for us, so we depend on professionals and friends for direction.
– Navigate health care issues and chronic illnesses – we want to thrive and be well even when living with diabetes, dementia, heart diseases, cancer and other diseases.
– Gain social interaction and connection and make new friends, but we may have difficulty leaving our house due to immobility concerns.
– Select a health care proxy and surrogate – we need help and direction when choosing someone to speak on our behalf if we should become too ill or incapacitated.
These topics are a few of what seniors want. We are not healthcare professionals, so the practical tips and advice come through other’s experiences.
However, at the local community-based services and medical teams, the professionals can do so much more. Just recognizing the fact that we’re living alone, and then assess the risks, would help the older person understand what’s needed to remain safe, healthy, and independent even when no one is around to check on us.
In recent medical research, geriatricians found several risks that affect the elderly: social support, isolation and loneliness, managing illnesses, and stay financially able.
Carol Marak is an aging advocate and editor at Seniorcare.com. She holds a Certificate in Fundamentals of Gerontology from UC Davis, School of Gerontology.