Flu Information and Prevention

FLU + You – Learn about Flu Prevention

The immune system weakens with age, making it harder to fight disease. As a result, the flu can be severe for adults 65 years of age and older.

This age group typically accounts for more than half of flu-related hospitalizations and almost all flu-related deaths.
In fact, influenza, combined with pneumonia, is one of the top ten leading causes of death in the United States in people 65 years of age and older.
The flu can be dangerous for older adults as chronic health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes can worsen as a result of the flu.

People with these conditions are more likely to develop complications from the flu that can result in hospitalization and even death.
Chronic health conditions commonly affect older adults:
86% of adults 65 years of age and older have at least one chronic condition, and 68% of Medicare beneficiaries have two or more.
Among adults 65 years of age and older, roughly 20% have diabetes, and about 30% have heart disease.
Adults 65 years of age and older should try to get vaccinated as early as possible.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the single best way to help prevent the flu is to get an annual flu vaccination, which is recommended for everyone six months of age and older, with rare exception.
In fact, it is estimated that during the 2014-2015 flu season, almost 58,000 hospitalizations were averted due to vaccination in people 65 years of age and older.
For older adults, it is especially important to try to get vaccinated early in the season, which has been shown to be associated with greater benefit compared to later in the season.

Talk to your health care provider about your flu vaccine options.

A higher-dose vaccine was developed specifically to address the age-related weakening of the immune system.
Flu vaccination is a Medicare benefit with no copay. A higher-dose vaccine is widely available; talk to your health care provider about flu vaccine options.

What is influenza/ flu?

Influenza (“the flu”) is a contagious respiratory illness that can be severe and life-threatening, especially for adults 65 years of age and older. The immune system weakens with age, which makes it harder to fight disease. The flu can be dangerous in older adults whether they are healthy or have a chronic health condition such as heart disease or diabetes, which can worsen as a result of the flu.

Getting an annual flu vaccination is one of the things you can do to help maintain your health. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the single best way to help prevent the flu is to get an annual vaccination, which is recommended for everyone six months of age and older, with rare exception.

What is Flu + You?

The Flu + You campaign is educating older adults and their loved ones about the seriousness of the flu, the importance of getting an annual flu vaccination and flu vaccine options. As our Flu Ambassador, Judith Light—starring in a new Off-Broadway show this fall and the upcoming third season of Amazon’s Transparent—is once again joining us in these efforts.

flu prevention flu

Fall Prevention

Fall Prevention

Falls are the leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injuries for older Americans. Falls threaten seniors safety and independence and generate enormous economic and personal costs. However, falling is not an inevitable result of aging. Through practical lifestyle adjustments, evidence-based fall prevention programs, and community partnerships, the number of falls among seniors can be substantially reduced.

Below are a number so steps for Fall Prevention.

Fall Prevention steps

6 Medicare Terms you need to know

Medicare Terms you need to know6 MEDICARE TERMS YOU NEED TO KNOW

If you’re like most people, you probably don’t spend a lot of time memorizing healthcare terminology. Unless you’ve worked in the healthcare space for years (like us!) you probably had more scintillating things to think about than the difference between a copay and a deductible. But every once in a while, having a little extra healthcare knowledge can go a long way. Luckily, we are here to help. Check out this guide to 6 useful Medicare terms below.

Difference Between Copay and Deductible

What is the difference between copays and deductibles? One way to think of it is that deductibles are “off the top” and copays are “pay as you go.” For example, many Medicare Part D plans have an annual deductible of $360 at the beginning of the year. That means you would pay the full cost of the drugs until you have paid $360, and then you would be done paying the annual deductible for the whole year.

Copays are fixed additional payments that you owe every time. So a prescription with a $5 copay will cost you $5 every time you refill it. Another example would be Medicare Part B, which also has both copays and deductibles. For Part B, your annual deductible for visiting your doctor will be $166 (unless you have a Medigap plan that covers this cost), and then your subsequent copays will be 20% of the “Medicare-approved charge” (more on this below).

Medicare Approved Charge

What’s a “Medicare Approved Charge?” If your provider accepts Medicare, then no matter what the “rack rate” (published rate) is for the medical service in question, Medicare will only approve charges up to a certain level. So even if your physician normally charges $500 for a specific procedure, if the Medicare-approved charge is $250 with Part B, then you would pay 20% of that lower charge, and Medicare would pay the rest. In this case, 20% of $250 means a $50 copay for you, with Medicare paying the remaining $200.

DME Provider

Have you ever seen a business referred to as a “DME Provider?” DME stands for Durable Medical Equipment. We won’t get into a discussion of how durable something needs to be, but in general the term refers to physical objects which can be “prescribed” – yes, you can write a prescription for a wheelchair or a hospital bed. But it can also refer to things as small as diabetic and ostomy supplies.

Additionally, Medicare now limits the number of approved DME providers. The hope is that consolidating the numbers of providers will ensure better oversight and cost regulation. So when looking for a walker or crutches or power wheelchair, make sure that the business is not only approved by Medicare as a DME provider, but can also guide you in understanding the rules and regulations which govern their particular products.

Formularies and drug restrictions

A “formulary” is the list of drugs covered by your Medicare plan. Before choosing a plan type, you should make sure that any medications you currently use are included in that plan’s formulary. However, sometimes when you attempt to use your Medicare Part D drug benefit, the pharmacist will tell you that the medication is not approved, even when you know it’s on your plan’s formulary. This is because Part D plans sometimes put additional restrictions on particular drugs, especially if they are expensive and/or can be substituted for a lower-priced alternative. The most common restriction is “prior authorization.” This means that your doctor needs to get prior approval from the plan before the plan will pay for a certain drug. Another common restriction is “quantity limits.” These may apply to anti-depressants, sleep aids, or any other remedy which needs to be limited. In all of these cases, you may file an appeal with Medicare and your plan if you believe the regulations should not apply in your particular case.

Questions about any of these terms? For access to fast, trustworthy Medicare advice from a licensed benefits advisor, check out the Medicare Questionnaire (created by the nonprofit National Council on Aging). For access to federally-funded Medicare counseling, contact your local State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP).

This article was written by the National Counsel on Aging– My Medicare Matters team..  It is a very informative website.


Colorado Strategic Action Planning Group

Strategic Action Planning Group

Help our state plan for aging

The Strategic Action Planning Group on Aging is tackling the pressing issues facing our state and families as Colorado’s population ages. The group, which we are proud to partner with, is working to ensure all Coloradans have the support they need to enjoy a healthy, mobile, and vibrant lifestyle as they age. SAPGA needs your help and perspectives as it works to answer questions about affordable housing, supports for family caregivers, community design, transportation options, workforce needs, retirement security, the viability of federal programs, impact on the state budget and access to quality health care.  

Your input is essential to Colorado’s future and SAPGA’s recommendations to our leaders. Visit colorado.gov/agingstrategy to weigh in, or share your thoughts on social media with #plan4aging