A fresh approach to the senior years

December 15, 2021 Providence News Team

A fresh approach to senior years

Medicare recipients qualify for an annual exam designed to enhance health and quality of life.

The graying of America (aging) chart.

Today ’s generation of older adults are more active and vibrant than any previous generation. The primary care physicians affiliated with Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Centers San Pedro and Torrance are determined to support that approach to aging by encouraging Medicare recipients ages 65 and older to schedule an annual Medicare Wellness Evaluation.

The assessment, which takes about 30 to 45 minutes, and takes place wherever you receive your Providence primary care, addresses topics and issues that may not be included in a standard health care office visit, says Elizabeth Sander, MD, president of Providence Medical Associates.

“We encourage all of our seniors ages 65 and older to have an annual senior wellness evaluation. A Medicare benefit with no cost to the patient, it is not what people think of as the usual annual physical examination. It is an assessment of their current functional status and risk factors for developing some conditions associated with aging.”

The visit includes discussion of :

  • Risk of falls and fractures
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Vision 
  • Hearing 
  • Vaccinations
  • Cancer and osteoporosis screenings
  • Depression
  • Dementia
  • Advance care planning
  • Medication management

“If any conditions or issues are noted, we have specific measures that we recommend,” Dr. Sander says. “For example, if we find someone is at risk for falls or has had falls, we will look for treatable causes and then work to reduce the risk of falling through physical therapy or other interventions. The Medicare Wellness Assessment is aimed at early identification and treatment of potential conditions to prevent progression.

“Mental health screening has emerged as a vital service that can identify and help seniors who are lonely or struggling emotionally, and we have behavioral health specialists at four of our sites,” she says. “Our primary care providers are comfortable with prescribing medication if that is appropriate. Often, I will prescribe a list of activities that are fun and enjoyable for seniors. Many seniors need more social interaction.”

Completing advance care directives and other documents to prepare for aging is a service seniors appreciate, she says. Providence Medical Associates also offers a class on advance care planning, directed by nurse practitioners, that focuses on the details of the document and how to make decisions regarding end-of-life care.

The annual Medicare Wellness Assessment tends to cover topics that some people may have avoided talking about—but should discuss, Dr. Sander says.

“Most of my patients feel the assessment is beneficial to them. These may be topics patients do not like to discuss. But when it is part of this assessment, it is not as intimidating.”

For more information on scheduling a Medicare Wellness Assessment, contact Monique Rogers-Guy at 310-792-4038.


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