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The Importance of Senior Preventive Care for Healthier Aging

There are a record 50 million seniors (65 years and older) living in the United States, with this number expected to reach 70 million by the year 2030. As the number of seniors increases so does the need for geriatric care, including home health care as the majority of individuals are looking to age in place. In fact, according to a report from the Alliance for Home Health Quality and Innovation (AHHQI), a patient’s home is likely to become the center of care delivery over the next few decades.

Part of the health care delivery includes preventive care services to help reduce the risk of future illnesses and aid with early diagnosis and treatment. Preventive care can help keep home health care patients from developing costly chronic conditions, some of which are multi-billion dollar healthcare spending juggernauts.

Preventive care services for older adults includes an Annual Wellness Visit with a primary care physician to check height, weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, and other routine measurements. The physician will provide a health risk assessment, asking about the patient’s health status, injury risks, behavioral risks and urgent health needs. The doctor will also review the patient’s functional ability and level of safety, including screening for hearing impairments and the risk of falling. Part of this includes assessing the patient’s ability to perform activities of daily living (such as bathing and dressing), and the level of safety at home, which is important to the extent of home health care a patient may need. In addition, a five-to-ten year screen schedule will be created to screen for cognitive impairment, including diseases such as Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Other services will include checking for depression, tobacco use, and alcohol misuse.

Certain cancer screenings, depending on the individual’s age, can be a part of preventive services. Vaccinations are also recommended, such as the Influenza vaccine, Pneumococcal vaccination, Shingles, and Tetanus-diphtheria (Td) and tetanus-diptheria-pertussis (Tdap).

It’s important to note that generally many of the preventive care services are based on recommendations of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF). Medicare provides coverage for preventive health services, but not for every service. In addition, not all services are a good fit for every senior adult.

This content is being shared as part of a Living at Home Network project to provide outreach about the importance of older adults receiving preventative care and staying connected to public health programs. Content is funded by HealthPartners.


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