By Christina Ramirez, RN
Olathe Community Clinic
You hear all the time about “the Golden Years,” but do all those who turn 50 years old and beyond ever think about what they need to do now in order to be able to enjoy those years? Many do not and by the time they hit those “Golden Years” they discover that something with their health is just not right.
Almost all health insurance policies – even Medicare and Medicaid – cover the costs of preventative care. One recommendation for all individuals who turn 50, male or female, is to consider having a colonoscopy. In years past, having a colonoscopy meant drinking a horrible tasting liquid to be prepped for the procedure, and being off of work for a couple days or more. Times have changed and the process for the prep is not quite so bad. You only have to miss maybe a day and a half from work, and you bounce right back after having the procedure. The procedure does not take long, and then you go on with life.
Why get a colonoscopy? As a Registered Nurse, I have seen this happen more than I care to remember: A patient refuses to have the colonoscopy, but he or she will experience health issues in the future. The biggest reason they don’t want to have a colonoscopy is because they feel healthy, and are reluctant to go through the preparation and test. Years later, they start feeling bad, complaining of abdominal or bowel problems. They end up in the emergency room, and then have to have a colonoscopy, only to discover that they have colon cancer. This is a serious health issue that could have been easily prevented or detected earlier.
Remember, you want to be able to enjoy those “Golden Years”, and one way to do that is by taking advantage of what your insurance already covers: preventative care.
Medicare covers the following as preventive care:
• Abdominal aortic aneurysm screening
• Alcohol misuse screenings & counseling
• Bone mass measurements (bone density)
• Cardiovascular disease screenings
• Cardiovascular disease (behavioral therapy)
• Cervical & vaginal cancer screening
• Colorectal cancer screenings
• Depression screenings
• Diabetes screenings
• Diabetes self-management training
• Glaucoma tests
• HIV screening
• Mammograms (screening)
• Nutrition therapy services
• Obesity screenings & counseling
• One-time “Welcome to Medicare” preventive visit
• Prostate cancer screenings
• Sexually transmitted infections screening & counseling
The Medicare website (www.mymedicare.gov) has an abundance of information on what is covered under preventive care.
When you enter the “Golden Years,” please consider a colonoscopy. Also, women should get mammograms and men should get PSAs. It only takes a little bit of your time, so that you can enjoy the rest of your years doing the things that you planned so long ago. Enjoy your grandkids, travel, rest, or garden – all while knowing that you are being proactive and getting your care now instead of when it may be too late.
This column is a part of the “Getting On and Beyond” editorial series that appears in the Montrose Daily Press.