The 5 Don’ts of COVID for Medicare-Age Adults

Quarantine Dr Visit

When was the last time you spoke with your doctor? Recently released data from eHealth found that among Medicare beneficiaries, 19% had delayed or cancelled medical care due to the coronavirus. For older Americans, this is just one of the many ways that the crisis has disrupted lives and upended routines that keep Medicare-age adults both healthy and happy.

Now more than ever, the well-being of older adults is critically important. Here are five ways to avoid neglecting the care and activities that keep you healthy and whole during these difficult times:

  1. Don’t Put Off Health Care – Although the coronavirus has altered the medical landscape, taking care of all aspects of your health should remain a priority. In addition to those who have put off medical care since the pandemic began, eHealth’s July survey also revealed that 25% have delayed or canceled vision care and 37% of respondents have delayed or canceled dental care. It is important not to neglect your health care needs, especially if you are sensing changes to your health. Today, there are many options to speak to a doctor without leaving your home through telehealth options and virtual consultations. During these virtual appointments, providers can often offer treatment recommendations and write prescriptions to ensure that your needs are met. Call or e-mail your doctors today to see how you can keep up with your routine appointments safely and, perhaps, virtually.  
  2. Don’t Disconnect from Family and Friends – The regular calendar of summer events like graduation parties, family reunions, vacations and other occasions may be cancelled, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t options to stay connected. eHealth’s recent survey of Medicare beneficiaries revealed that 53% of respondents said that they were worried about being separated from family or friends – up from 43% in April. Take back your social calendar with video calls, virtual book clubs and socially distanced events like picnic lunches or coffees. Don’t let distance prevent you from staying in touch with your community and loved ones!
  3. Don’t Become Screen Obsessed – For better or worse, our lives have largely moved online since the start of coronavirus. eHealth’s survey found 82% of respondents are watching more TV or movies at home, 58% are doing more online shopping and 25% say they are ordering groceries online more. While these alternatives to theaters and stores are a great way to stay safe during the pandemic, limiting screen time is important. For every hour you spend in front of a TV, phone or computer screen, consider spending an equal among of time reading, writing letters to friends and family and getting some fresh air.
  4. Don’t Forget About Mental Health – According to eHealth’s survey, concern for mental health among older adults increased from 22% in April to 36% in July. As coronavirus continues to keep many Americans from activities that are good for both the mind and soul, it is important to find safe ways to do the things that you enjoy. Take up a new hobby, get outdoors for walks, runs or bike rides, attend online religious services or listen to a new podcast – all enjoyable activities that will also keep you mentally engaged and connected.
  5. Don’t Not Vote – The United States is less than 100 days away from the presidential election and Medicare-age adults are concerned about voting. eHealth found that 65% beneficiaries say they would prefer to vote by mail, including a majority of both Democrats and Republics. As Election Day nears, educate yourself on your options for voting absentee or by mail should that be your preference. Visit your state governor’s or secretary of state’s website to learn more about your vote-by-mail options.

The coronavirus pandemic is a challenge for all generations, but especially for older Americans. Although day-to-day life looks different, taking care of yourself and finding ways to pursue your interests are essential to preserving your health and a positive outlook during these unique times.