It’s October and yes, like many of us, I engage in the ritual of digging out sweaters, putting a fall wreath on my front door, and buying Halloween candy ostensibly for my grandkids. But here are two October activities that all of us over 65 really MUST do ourselves:
1) Get a flu shot
2) Review and compare our Medicare coverage
You’ve seen the statistics, influenza is a serious illness. It’s not just a bad cold and the danger it presents to us increases as we age. In fact, according to the CDC, it is estimated that between about 70-85% of season flu-related deaths are in Americans 65 and older. We are more susceptible to flu complications as we age due to weakening immune systems—but there are steps we can take to protect ourselves.
Getting a flu shot is honestly one of the best investments you can make in protecting your health. There is even a “high dose” flu vaccine, which, during clinical trials, reduced influenza infection in adults 65 and older by 24%. You can plug in your Zip Code here to find locations near you where you can get your flu shot today!
Reviewing Your Medicare Coverage
Here’s a short cautionary tale. I have a friend who worked in healthcare. When he turned 65, he was meticulous in picking his Part D coverage. Though he didn’t take many medicines, he did have one which was very new and not covered by a lot of Part D plans. It was expensive but the plan he picked was excellent.
For a couple years, he continued to review his plan each year and found his plan still worked great. In October of last year, he was busy and thought he didn’t need to bother with it. He just renewed his usual plan. After all, it has been fine for the past few years.
You can probably guess the rest of the story. The formulary — the list of drugs a plan covers – changed and his medicine was no longer covered under his usual plan.
It was a tough way to learn a lesson, but I hope his trouble will now serve as a lesson to all my fellow seniors. Please take the time to review your plan this year and every year.
Open enrollment starts TODAY, and lasts until to December 7th. This is the time where you can first enroll in Medicare, as well as review and make changes to existing plans. You can find a plan that works for you on Medicare’s website here, and get some helpful open enrollment tips here.
I promise, these two simple tasks will make all the difference to your health, so make sure to check them off your to-do list this October!