What you can do to make a difference

Published 8:25 pm Saturday, March 26, 2011

By Kathy McVey

By definition, a Baby Boomer is a person who was born during the Post-World War II (1945-1964) “Baby Boom” era. Pew Research estimates that by 2030, 18 percent of the nation’s population will be 65 or older, compared to 13 percent as of this year. Additionally, they predict that every day for the next 19 years, 10,000 Americans will turn 65. These are astounding figures.

Sadly, the American Association of Retired People (AARP) reports that 80 percent of seniors have at least one chronic condition, and 50 percent have at least two. These conditions include: hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, high cholesterol and COPD. These conditions will significantly impact the government-run Medicare program and private insurance carriers. This means trouble ahead for U.S. health care.

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Will the U.S. health care system be able to cope with the future health care needs of an aging population? Only time will tell. But you can do something now to change the course of your health and not be in a situation to need additional health care services. Here are six ways you can improve your health and get the most out of your healthcare.

4Accept that you have a health issue. Acceptance is the first step in getting help with a chronic condition or any health issue. Ignoring the signs of illness will only make the situation worse.

4Seek advice from experts. Visit your physician or seek the advice of a specialist in the area where you are having health issues. A health care professional will be able to direct you to resources available to you, additional testing needed and support for your condition.

4Consider a Medicare Advantage or Medicare supplement policy. Medicare isn’t what it used to be. As the population ages and more strains are being placed on an already strained system, it’s advisable to have a Medicare Advantage plan or Medicare supplement insurance to fill in the gaps for what Medicare doesn’t cover.

4Utilize your health insurance for disease management. Most insurers have case managers that will work with you to manage and improve your condition.

4Follow a plan. Create a health plan and follow it. As with anything, if you don’t have a plan, you won’t know where you are going. After you create your plan, you need to follow it, too.

4Have a support system. Having friends, family or neighbors to support you physically and emotionally through your health journey will help you tremendously. A support system affords you the opportunity to share with others how you are feeling at any given time.

In the end, managing your own health will help to extend your life, make life

more enjoyable and allow you to connect with others on a personal level. Don’t let the health care system get you down. Take charge of your health and your health care needs!

Kathy McVey is consumer products manager at Optima Health.