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Enriching your life; informing your health. Life insurance, and other topics.


Air Pollution Still a Problem for Older Adults: 5 Steps to Mitigate the Risk
Air Pollution Still a Problem for Older Adults: 5 Steps to Mitigate the Risk

A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine concluded that air pollution kills thousands of Americans every year. The study used data from millions of Americans on Medicare to determine the consequences of air pollution on older Americans.

The study was among the most comprehensive to date on the effects of air pollution. Led by Francesca Dominici, a Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health biostatistics professor, the study required researchers to synthesize data from federal air monitoring stations and satellites to create a map of air pollution. The map was so detailed that it could determine pollution for individual zip codes.

The pollution map was then cross referenced with data from 60 million Americans on Medicare from 2000-2013. The conclusion drawn was that even low levels of air pollution are lethal, killing around 12,000 Americans per year.

"We are now providing bullet-proof evidence that we are breathing harmful air," Dominici said in an interview with NPR. "Our air is contaminated."

But what can Americans do with this information? There are several concrete steps you can take to protect yourself.

1. Check Your Daily Pollution Forecast
The American Lung Association has an app that you can download that will let you know how much pollution to expect in your area on any given day. If the forecast is high, limit the amount of time you spend outdoors.

2. Avoid Exercising in Areas of Heavy Traffic
Cars create pollution. Even if you are going for a short walk down the road, the pollution has the ability to build up over time. State parks and gyms are a great alternative for a safer place to exercise.

3. Get Regular Check Ups
Air pollution can cause a number of diseases, including lung cancer. That is why it is important that you take full advantage of the preventative care options that your insurance offers. That way, you can catch any diseases early.

4. Stop Smoking
This one should be self-explanatory, but if you are worried about air pollution then you need to make a concerted effort to cut down on the amount of cigarette smoke you are exposed to. While smoking habits have decreased, 8.4% of the population still smoked in 2014, according to the State of Aging and Health in America.

5. Consider Medicare Supplement Insurance Options (Medigap)
If you live in an area of high pollution, you may decide to invest in a Medigap plan that can offer you more protection should the worst happen.

Air pollution is a serious problem for all Americans, but for seniors, it can have a more pronounced effect. Taking precautions can prevent you from experiencing the worst of the consequences. 

http://www.nejm.org/doi/10.1056/NEJMoa1702747

Disclaimer: Neither Bankers Fidelity Life Insurance Company® nor its Medicare Supplement policies are affiliated with or endorsed by the U.S. Government, the federal Medicare program, or the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. This is a solicitation of Medicare Supplement insurance and an independent agent may call on you. 

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Depression and Senior Citizens: What You Need to Know Part 2
Depression and Senior Citizens: What You Need to Know Part 2

Depression is a serious illness that affects a growing number of Americans, including seniors. The good news is that depression can be managed with the proper care.

In the first half of this series, we talked about some of the contributing factors for depression. We also talked common indications that you might need to reach out to a medical professional for help.

In this second half, we will talk about how you can use Medicare Supplement plans to help you fight back against depression. 

 

Original Medicare

Since 2012, Medicare Part B has covered one depression screening per year. This screening is entirely free if your doctor accepts assignments. The screening must be carried out by a doctor in a primary care facility, however they have the ability to write a referral to a mental health specialist if needed.

Part B also covers outpatient services, like psychiatrist or clinical psychologist visits -- again, so long as the doctor accepts assignments. For these services, you will have to pay a copay or coinsurance of 20% of the Medicare-approved amount.

 

Medicare Supplement Insurance Options

There are a number of benefits to owning a Medicare Supplement insurance policy. For starters, plans available in your state often help cover your copays and coinsurance.

 

Medicare Supplement insurance plans differ by allowing you to choose a plan better suited to your specific needs. If you have a history of mental illness, then you may choose to invest in a plan that has broader coverage of mental health-related charges.

 

Depression is one of the most difficult illnesses to diagnose and treat. But knowing what to watch out for and what resources are available to you will give you a big advantage.

 

http://www.gallup.com/poll/181364/reports-depression-treatment-highest-among-baby-boomers.aspx?utm_source=CATEGORY_WELLBEING&utm_medium=topic&utm_campaign=tiles

Disclaimer: Neither Bankers Fidelity Life Insurance Company® nor its Medicare Supplement policies are affiliated with or endorsed by the U.S. Government, the federal Medicare program, or the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. This is a solicitation of Medicare Supplement insurance and an independent agent may call on you. 

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Depression and Senior Citizens: What You Need to Know Part 1
Depression and Senior Citizens: What You Need to Know Part 1

Not all ailments are physical. In fact, 14% of baby boomers -- or one in seven -- said they were being treated for depression according to a 2015 Gallup poll. That rate is higher than any other generation of American adults.

Oftentimes, those suffering from non-physical illnesses are uncomfortable talking about their struggle, which might even prevent them from seeking therapy and getting the help they need.

This two-part guide is designed to help you better understand how depression can affect Medicare-aged individuals, and what they can do to combat the illness.

Part one will focus on risk and detection.

Risk Factors for Depression in Seniors
Many people who suffer from depression have lived otherwise healthy and pleasant lives. This is, in fact, part of why a stigma has developed around depression and other mental illnesses. Still, there are some things that have shown to increase the risk that you should bear in mind:

·       Physical disability

·       Changes in environment

·       Medication

·       Poor Diet

·       Loss of a loved one

Signs of Depression in Medicare Aged Individuals
While everyone feels under the weather from time to time, there is a serious difference between feeling sad for a day or two and depression. Whether you think you might be struggling with depression or you're a concerned caregiver, there are a few signs to be on the lookout for.

Persistent sadness: As we mentioned before, there is a difference between a bad couple of days and depression. That said, if the bad mood or sadness persists beyond two weeks, then you should strongly consider speaking to a therapist.

Withdrawing: Are you or your loved one suddenly not feeling up to large group gatherings or even intimate get togethers? A sudden change in the way you interact with the world should be a clue that something is wrong.

Lethargy: While slowing down might be a natural part of aging, if you or your loved one has suddenly started feeling too tired to get out of bed and carry on everyday routines, then there is cause for concern.

Irrational Guilt: Guilt is a useful emotion, and one directly tied to a sense of right and wrong and empathy. But if you or a loved one feels compelled to apologize for, and overreact to everything, then there might be something worth exploring with a professional.

Depression is a serious issue for many seniors. While certain things can help you prevent depression, like practicing a healthy lifestyle, it often will require medical assistance. In the next part of this series, we will talk about treatment and what Medicare Supplement insurance plans may be the best fit to help you combat depression.

Banker's Fidelity offers Medicare Supplement Insurance plans in states across the country. If you need help choosing a health plan or deciding which is the best Medicare Supplement for you, contact us today.

http://www.gallup.com/poll/181364/reports-depression-treatment-highest-among-baby-boomers.aspx?utm_source=CATEGORY_WELLBEING&utm_medium=topic&utm_campaign=tiles

Disclaimer: Neither Bankers Fidelity Life Insurance Company® nor its Medicare Supplement policies are affiliated with or endorsed by the U.S. Government, the federal Medicare program, or the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. This is a solicitation of Medicare Supplement insurance and an independent agent may call on you. 

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Preventive Health Care on Medicare Part 4: For African Americans and LGBTQIA
Preventive Health Care on Medicare Part 4: For African Americans and LGBTQIA
Medicare is an insurance program available to all Americans who have worked for at least ten years and have reached the age of 65. The service covers a wide range of medical needs, ranging from emergency services to preventive health services, costing a total of $597.2 billion according to the Congressional Budget Office.

In recent years, there has been a greater push towards making people on Medicare more aware of the types of preventative services their insurance provides. This is in part because preventive care reduces the likelihood of contracting certain ailments, and increases the likelihood of discovering others while they are still easily treatable. It also has the added benefit of managing health care expenses, in the long run, both those faced by individuals and those paid by Medicare.

In the first three posts in this series, we've discussed Medicare's coverage of preventive screenings (part 1), and the most apropos services for men (part 2) and women (part 3). In this fourth we will examine preventive screenings specifically beneficial for African Americans and LGBTQIA populations.

African Americans
While there is much debate as to whether it is a matter of genetics or environment, African Americans are statistically much more likely to be diagnosed with a number of illnesses, even if they have never engaged in high-risk behaviors: African American men, for instance, are 50% more likely to get lung cancer than white men, even with lower tobacco exposure.

It is important for African Americans to be particularly diligent in keeping up with their preventative care, especially in areas they experience higher risks such as Diabetes, Kidney Disease, Chronic Lung Problems, Higher Blood pressure, Prostate Cancer.

LGBTQIA
While many outside of the LGBTQIA might associate these populations with an increased chance of HIV, there are other ailments that disproportionately affect those communities. The list includes physical maladies such as diabetes and anal cancer, and also a much higher rate of mental illnesses such as depression, especially among the older populations.

Preventive care is also more complicated for trans people, who need to seek preventive care for their birth gender, despite how they identify.

For LGBTQIA individuals it is important to balance your physical preventive care with the psychological as well.

While there is a great deal of information in circulation to inform people about preventive care, it is important to understand the ways in which you personally are at risk, and the way your age, gender, race, or orientation might interact with that.

This concludes our four-part series on preventative care. If you have more questions about Medicare insurance or would like to explore the Medicare supplement plans available to you, contact Bankers Fidelity today. 

Preventive Health Care on Medicare Part 3: For Women
Preventive Health Care on Medicare Part 3: For Women
In this four-part series, we are examining the ways preventative health care and services can help catch illnesses early while they're still treatable, and the way Medicare health insurance plans can help with managing health care expenses. So far, we’ve delved into Medicare Plan B’s Coverage and the most important types of preventive screening for men.

Women also stand to benefit from preventative screening. For most women, and indeed most Americans, two-thirds of health care costs involve the treatment of chronic illnesses, and that number increases to 95% among older populations, according to the State of Aging and Health in America.

Mammography
Breast cancer is one of the top killers of women in America. A mammography is the most common method of detecting early stage cancer, using an X-ray to examine for any irregularities. In women between 65 and 74 years old, these tests have been shown to reduce the number of cancer-related deaths.

Cervical Cancer Screening
The most common test associated with cervical cancer is known as the Pap test, which is performed on a sample of cells from the cervix to test for abnormalities. While it is optional to stop Pap tests after the age of 65 if you have no history cervical dysplasia or cancer and have consistently tested negative in your previous tests, it is always a good idea to discuss your decision with a doctor as some surveys indicate that they are still beneficial.

Human Papillomavirus Testing
Human Papillomavirus is one of the leading causes of cervical cancer. It is so common that almost everyone who is sexually active will become infected with one of the more than a hundred types of HPV known today. Testing for HPV even among senior women with no history of cervical issues has proven to be a lifesaver, as Pap tests alone miss up to 40% of precancerous lesions.

While women benefit from many of the same tests as men, there are specialized preventive screenings that can have a dramatic effect on the health of senior women. Hopefully, our guide has helped you understand these procedures. In the fourth and final installment of this series, we will be talking about preventive services for special populations.