How seniors can get quality health care

10:35 AM, Nov 26, 2018
How seniors can get quality health care

While it's important for people of every age to receive adequate health care, seniors face special health considerations that can make getting quality health care challenging. Ongoing changes to health care benefits along with misunderstandings regarding how Medicare works also contribute to the difficulties surrounding a senior citizen's access to health care.

Here are some things seniors should know to keep them healthy and cared for as long as possible.

Vulnerable elders receive only half of their necessary care

A natural part of aging is an increase in health concerns that need monitoring by qualified health professionals. The problem is, if a primary care provider isn't attentive or well-versed in geriatric medicine, even a senior who makes frequent trips to the doctor's office may not be getting the care he or she needs.

To assess the care of the elderly population, RAND and Pfizer, Inc. developed a comprehensive assessment system with quality indicators that helped researchers identify areas where the health care system can be improved.

Their research found that vulnerable elders, or "people 65 years and older who are at high risk for death or functional decline" received only half of their recommended care.

"Preventive care suffers the most," said. "Care is worse for geriatric conditions (e.g., incontinence, falls) than for conditions that affect all adults (e.g., hypertension." The study also found that physicians were not prescribing all recommended medications for their geriatric patients.

"Educating consumers about the right questions to ask of their medical providers is a powerful first step in increasing the quality of care for our nation's vulnerable elderly," Robin Hertz of Pfizer told




Get updated on current vaccination recommendations

A part of preventive care that might be overlooked is the vaccination schedule for seniors. Adults age 65 or older are more likely to contract diseases like pneumonia, the flu and shingles because of a naturally weakening immune system, according to, and that is why being up to date on vaccines is so important.

Seniors are recommended to get the flu vaccine each year and to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention vaccination schedule for other vaccines such as Tdap, shingles, pneumococcal, meningococcal chickenpox and hepatitis A and B.

Seniors need better education on health insurance

A lack of knowledge of how health insurance works is one of the barriers seniors may have to sufficient health care. Most of today's seniors will be eligible for Medicare after age 65 but may be unaware of which of Medicare's four parts they should be signing up for. For instance, with Medicare Part B, seniors can get no-cost annual wellness checkups along with preventive screenings without any out-of-pocket costs.

"Whether you’re approaching age 65 or have already reached it, Medicare and its various options and supplements will be an important part of your well-being," Partners in Primary Care explained.

Seniors can learn more about Medicare and how Medicare parts A, B, C and D work by working with community health resources or doctor's offices with experienced health professionals.

Seniors need care for specific health concerns

Doctors who work with elderly patients should be aware of and screen for common problems at each visit. When choosing their health care team, seniors should ask whether a doctor's office can help them understand health insurance terms and fill out paperwork, provide nutritional guidance, help them manage chronic conditions and assist them with technology questions, such as how to use smartphones to manage their health care or how to navigate the internet to view their lab reports.

To learn more about the health resources available to seniors, visit a Partners in Primary Care and Health Resources location today or any of the Health Resources by Humana stations at five different Missouri and Kansas Walgreens locations. 


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