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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," Rand.org 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 Rand.org.