In the months since we all learned about the novel coronavirus COVID-19 in March, many things have changed about the way we live, work, and play. The global pandemic has certainly changed everyday life from going to the grocery store to visiting family and friends and especially monitoring our health and seeking medical care. If you are older or have parents, grandparents, and/or friends and relatives who are older, there are some additional concerns.
Older Adults Are at Greater Risk
While we know the coronavirus can affect anyone and spreads in human-to-human respiratory droplets, there is a greater risk for older adults and those with underlying health conditions. Here are some risk factors to consider:
- People aged 70 and over
- People with an underlying health condition such as diabetes, heart disease, and lung disease
- People with a weakened immune system which would otherwise give them some protection to the effects of the infection (such as people on anti-cancer drugs, or following a transplant, AIDS, rheumatoid arthritis, or lupus). Smoking, alcohol, and poor diets also weaken people’s immune systems.
- Women who are pregnant
How to Stay Healthy
Staying healthy during these times can present some challenges, but many plans are shifting to make things easier. Our partners at Well Advised share this table (below) of what some Medicare plans are doing to help with telehealth and other ways. If you’re wondering how Well Advised can provide this list, it’s because they use artificial intelligence to monitor all the plans and are able to tell you which plan is the best for your needs. Check it out. It’s free.
|HUMANA||KAISER||AARP UNITED||CVS AETNA||ANTHEM MEDIBLUE|
|TELEHEALTH||Free||Free||Free||TeleDoc Free||LiveHealth Online Free|
|PHONE HELP||Member support line||Free||Optum||Free||NurseLine Free|
|90 DAY MEDICATION||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|EARLY DRUG REFILLS||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|MAIL ORDER OF DRUGS||Yes||Yes. Courier service free||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|COVID-19 INPATIENT TREATMENT||Free||Normal charges||Free||Free|
|BEHAVIORAL HEALTH||Out-patient visits free||Emotional wellness center||Emotional support line||Outpatient telehealth visits free||Psych Hub free|
|OTHER COVID-19 HELP||Home oxygen usage||e-Visits||Mental Health|
Depending on where you live, there are guidelines to help keep people safer during this time such as social distancing, wearing a mask in public, and being vigilant about routine hygiene measures. For example, Denver guidelines. Check your city guidelines to be sure you know what the best practices are for your area.
As time goes on and social distancing continues to be recommended, it’s more important than ever to talk to the older adults in our lives to be sure they are managing well during this time when we may not see them in person as often as we used to. Here’s a great guide from our partner Well Advised about how to talk to our parents about COVID-19 (and other important topics).
And perhaps this virus gives us the motivation we need to have important conversations with our loved ones. Show of hands: who knows what company and plan your parents have for health insurance let alone what their wishes are regarding medical care?
There is a check sheet you can use to gather the information, but either way here’s a list of things we should all know about our older loved ones:
- What company and plans are they on?
- Tip: Take photos of their Medicare and health insurance card
- Do they have a living will with instructions? Where is it or who has it?
- Their major illnesses
- Which is their local or favorite hospital
- Their prescribed medications; and where or how they get them.
- What other supplements, or herbs, do they take. What do they take these for?
It’s all a new normal and experts say it’s likely to last for a while until we know more about the virus and/or have a vaccine for wide distribution. So, it makes sense to take steps to weather the storm the best we can. 9Health, a community non-profit, has promoted and provided tools for prevention for 40 years. It’s more important now than ever before and we stand ready to support Colorado in living full and well.
Blog Co-author: Dr. Robert Morris, Chief Medical Officer Well Advised
Financial support provided by Well Advised.
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