Seniors, take advantage of Medicare's new preventative health screenings

According to the census, there are 35 million people 65 and older living in the United States - nearly 12 percent of the population. Nearly 660,000 people 65 and over live in Washington state.

Seniors here and across the country can take an important step toward controlling their health this September by celebrating Healthy Aging Month and by asking their doctor for one of Medicare's new, preventative health screenings. These are designed to help seniors stay healthy. In addition to this service, people who receive Medicare are eligible for new prescription drug coverage starting Jan. 1, 2006.

Locally, Medicare Today is joining together with community organizations such as the Wallingford Senior Center, the Tallmadge Hamilton House and Ballard Manor to help older Americans stay healthy by conducting education seminars about new benefits available as a result of legislative changes to the Medicare program.

The new benefits include:

* Cardiovascular screenings. Medicare will now cover blood tests that measure cholesterol, lipid and triglyceride levels. Physicians use these tests to assess a patient's risk of heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular illnesses.

* Diabetes screenings. Seniors with diabetes are at greater risk of health complications including blindness, kidney disease and cardiovascular illnesses. Early detection is critical in preventing serious illness.

* Welcome to Medicare physical. For the first time, Medicare will pay for new enrollees - anyone who enters Medicare for the first time after Jan. 1, 2005 - to have a complete physical examination. This gives doctors the opportunity to detect any potentially serious health problems and to discuss healthy living tips. (Seniors must take advantage of the physical within the first six months after they enroll.)

Healthy Aging Month is an annual observance designed to focus national attention on the positive aspects of aging. Organizers urge local communities to join the celebration by organizing a Healthy Aging Walk-a-Thon, distributing healthy living information or hosting a senior health fair. Medicare Today will help celebrate by hosting events designed to inform seniors about the new Medicare benefits throughout the month of September.

For help planning events to celebrate Healthy Aging Month, including materials and Medicare information, visit or contact Sheila Stickel at 282-5544.[[In-content Ad]]