March is officially National Kidney Month! Now is a great time to remind ourselves about the importance of kidney health, a subject that may be often overlooked or forgotten. As seniors, we cannot let our health fall by the wayside, and that includes the health of each one of our critical organs. Currently, 1 in 3 American adults is at risk for kidney disease, and one of the biggest risk factors for developing kidney disease is being age 60 or older.
Although there are other risk factors for developing kidney disease, such as having diabetes, high blood pressure, or a family history, the simple fact is—as we age, so do our kidneys! And, since kidney disease usually has no symptoms, it can advance rapidly and remain undetected if we don’t make a concerted effort to regularly check on our kidney function. Luckily, a simple urine test is all you need to determine if you have kidney disease, which can allow you to take steps early on to slow the disease’s progression.
The kidneys are important for removing waste and excess fluid from the body, which regulates the body’s salt, potassium, and acid contents. The kidneys are also responsible for some hormone production and regulation, which can affect other organs in the body, blood cell count quality, and bone health. Fortunately, ensuring that you are taking steps to reduce your risk for other diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure can also prevent kidney disease or slow its progression.
Medicare, a program which many of us rely on as seniors, helps cover much of the costs that may be associated with testing and treating kidney disease. Medicare Part B helps pay for important services for beneficiaries with kidney disease, like doctors’ visits and dialysis. Additionally, Medicare Part D can help cover the cost of immunosuppressant drugs, which help prevent and treat kidney disease. In fact, immunosuppressants to prevent organ rejection for transplant patients are one of the six protected classes of medicine under Part D, which means Part D plans are required to cover “all or substantially all” drugs that fall under that therapeutic class.
So this March, celebrate National Kidney Month by booking an appointment with your doctor for a simple test of your kidney function, and encourage family and friends of all ages to do the same. Small actions can make a big difference when it comes to your health!