Tag Archives: Mental Illness

Seniors and Depression: How Medicare Can Help

Depression can be caused by genetic vulnerability, traumatic life events, serious medical conditions, faulty mood regulation in the brain, drug and alcohol use, and a number of other factors. It affects people of all ages, including more than 35 million Americans age 65 and older, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. And unfortunately, depression in seniors is often more severe and has lower remission rates than in younger adults. However, Medicare can cover some types of depression therapy and treatment.

Signs of Depression in Older Adults

Signs and symptoms of depression in older adults often include ongoing feelings of sadness, despair, and hopelessness, as well as lack of motivation, loss of interest in hobbies, neglect of personal care, decrease in appetite, increase in sleep disturbances, alcohol or drug abuse, fixation on death, and thoughts of suicide. Also, some seniors don’t feel sad at all. In many cases, the predominant symptom of depression in older people is often physical complaints, such as headaches, arthritis pain, and other ailments.

If you or someone in your life is experiencing the signs of depression, professional help is necessary for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Medicare Coverage for Mental Health

When choosing Medicare coverage, it’s important to consider current mental health needs, as well as issues that may arise in the future. Begin by finding a mental health provider that accepts Medicare by using the search function on the Medicare website. Inpatient and outpatient mental health services can be covered, depending on your policies.

Medicare Part A covers inpatient mental health treatment and services in a psychiatric hospital or a general hospital. However, for psychiatric hospital stays, there is a 190-day lifetime limit. In either instance, you will need to pay your deductible, and then your Medicare coverage would kick in. Examine your policy for details about possible daily hospital coinsurance amounts.

Original Medicare Part B provides coverage for outpatient care, including an annual depression screening, diagnostic testing, and medication management. Evaluations, counseling, and therapy by psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, clinical social workers, and certain other providers are also covered. As long as a participating Medicare provider that accepts assignment is utilized, Part B pays 80 percent of the cost of these services. Providers who take assignment have agreed to accept the Medicare-approved amounts for covered services. Some patients may find it difficult to pay their share, but Medigap insurance can cover those costs.

Medicare Advantage plans provide the same services as Original Medicare; plus, they can provide additional treatment options. For example, some plans have management programs for patients suffering from depression. This program offers counseling, coaching, and support by care management staff to help patients adhere to treatment for depression.

During the Open Enrollment Period each year (October 15 to December 7), you should evaluate your health care needs and figure out if you need to make any changes. During Open Enrollment, seniors can switch over from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Switching to a different Medicare Advantage plan is also possible, and you can also sign up for prescription drug coverage (Medicare Part D) during this time.

Age-related diseases can worsen depression symptoms, and conversely be worsened by depression. If you or someone close to you is dealing with depression or other mental health issues, it’s important to get help in the form of professional counseling, medication, and/or other treatments. If the person in question is a senior, there is proof that they need to get help is even greater. Talk to your family and your healthcare provider to find assistance. It’s possible to secure successful treatment and get back to living a fulfilling life.

About the Author
Teresa Greenhilll is the co-creator of MentalHealthForSeniors.com, which is dedicated to providing seniors with information on physical and mental fitness so that they can be active and happy in their golden years.

About Well Beyond Care
Well Beyond Care is the only company that teaches families and individuals how to find and manage affordable non-medical in-home care, while solving the chronic problems of caregiver truancy and turnover through the web application, WellBeyondCare.com. The Company’s platform combines the power of the internet with the personal touch of nurses to offer families a pathway to transitional care, allowing our elderly parents to safely age-in-place. Their solution lowers stress in hiring a caregiver and saves families tens of thousands of dollars per year in care costs.