February is “Heart Healthy Month” (and for all of you sweethearts out there, don’t forget Valentine’s Day on February 14th). Taking care of your heart is very important and there are some easy things that each of us can do.
Ask your physician what your “healthy weight” is and make an effort to eat lots of color: purple (eggplants), red (radishes), blue (blueberries), green (broccoli), white (cauliflower) and orange (tangerines). Try some grains like quinoa, instead of white rice.
Quit smoking and stay away from second-hand smoke.
Exercise — don’t let this scare you. One of the best things is walking. You don’t need equipment; and if you have a dog, you both benefit. A 30 minute walk each day will have you signing up for the Honolulu Marathon in no time.
March is “Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month” and the same three things are suggested to lower your risks — healthy eating, exercising, and quitting smoking.
Medicare’s benefits include a yearly “Wellness” visit where you will fill out a Health Risk Assessment form and then you and your physician will develop a personalized prevention plan to help you stay healthy.
Other preventive services include: bone mass measurement, mammograms, cardiovascular screenings, diabetes screenings, flu shots and glaucoma tests, just to name a few. Some of the new preventive benefits in 2013 are:
Cardiovascular Disease — Behavioral Therapy. Medicare will pay for one visit per year with your primary care doctor to help you lower your risks for cardiovascular disease.
Alcohol Misuse Counseling. One screening per year for adults with Medicare who use alcohol and don’t meet the medical criteria for alcohol dependency. Your primary care doctor can recommend up to four brief face to face counseling sessions per year and Medicare will pay for those.
Depression Screening. One screening per year. The screening must be done in a primary care setting (like a doctor’s office) that can provide follow-up treatment and referrals.
Obesity Screening and Counseling. If you have a BMI (body mass index) of more than 30 you may be eligible for intensive counseling to help you lose weight.
Sexually Transmitted Infections Screening and Counseling. These screenings are covered by Medicare for those that are pregnant and/or for certain people who are at an increased risk for STIs. Medicare will also pay for up to two individual 20-30 minute face to face counseling sessions each year for those at risk.
For more information about these preventive benefits and other Medicare benefits, the Hawai‘i SHIP (State Health Insurance Assistance Program) is available by calling 1-888-875-9229.