Tag Archives: Seniors

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.

Common Diseases Seniors Face and Challenges in Providing Healthcare Solutions

Due to aging, diet, and living styles, seniors are more prone to degenerative diseases. As people age they become more susceptible to diseases and conditions that make even simple tasks difficult. Routine activities like grocery shopping, preparing meals and running errands become harder as we get older and adopt a sedentary lifestyle, which is why many elderly people seek assistance from caregivers. Though aging is a reality of life, it is important to know which specific diseases are most common among seniors in order to decide a course of action of prevention, and barring that, then which type of care or assistance is best for your needs.

According to a recent article in the New York Times, the most common diseases among seniors in the U.S. are Alzheimer’s or any other form of dementia, high blood pressure, heart disease, depression, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Each of these illnesses can have dramatic effects on the quality of life of seniors and their families. Caring for an aging parent with dementia or depression can be especially trying. And while there are some precautions one can take to avoid such diseases, like leading a healthy lifestyle, the inevitable deterioration associated with old age is the leading factor that make seniors vulnerable (Medicinenet, 2013).

Though these conditions may manifest alone as a single disease, the problem gets worse as these conditions overlap. According to recent studies, having one of these diseases may make an elderly patient more susceptible to contracting others. Dr. P. Murali Doraiswamy, a psychiatry professor at Duke University, suggests that there is a link between dementia and vascular diseases. Studies aimed at establishing these connections are currently under way. As these ailments and conditions coexist, seniors suffer more and start to need more care. These overlapping health conditions also call for more specialized care for the senior; they need a caregiver or nurse who has experience working with patients suffering from similar comorbidities.

To date, more than 733,000 Americans live in assisted living facilities (ALFs) (New York Times, 2013). These popular living arraignments for seniors and people with disabilities offer an easy solution for their families if they can afford it. Depending on the preferred facility, level of care required, and professionals called for to provide care, yearly rates may vary, but the cost of living in a nursing home or assisted living facility has increased consistently for the past five years and typically costs about $80,000 annually. With such high costs, many families are looking for more affordable alternatives without sacrificing the quality of care and stability for their loved ones.

Many healthcare professionals, including Registered Nurses (RNs) and Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVNs), are moving away from the old model of finding jobs in an established geriatric living facility. Uncertainty about the future of the healthcare industry has driven many qualified medical professionals to operate independently, working for private pay and visiting the patients in their homes. This limits the cost of care and allows aging loved ones to remain in their own homes.

The number of seniors who need personal care is ever increasing in the US. These individuals and their families have enough stress in their lives dealing with illnesses and deteriorating health, that the addition of navigating the waters of elderly care is simply too difficult to take on alone. Fortunately there are many resources available today that can help seniors and their loved ones find the care they need at a cost they can afford.

Well Beyond Care gives caregivers and those who need care the tools to manage their in-home care online. Caregivers, registered nurses, certified nurse assistants, and geriatric care managers can use the website to be best matched with Careseekers looking for care, set their wages, post their weekly availability, receive weekly payment, and build their resume and portfolio with real experience. Careseekers and family members looking for someone to give care for their parents or loved ones, can use the website to search for qualified nurses, CNAs and caregivers, are matched with a caregiver who can best can deliver care to specific care needs, monitor their caregivers’ schedules and payment online and receive personal support from the nurse that is assigned to them when they join. Join for free today at WellBeyondCare.com.