(BPT) - While many people already practice tenets of good health — maintaining an active lifestyle, eating well, addressing mental health and visiting healthcare providers regularly — there are additional considerations as we age. You can prepare for long-term wellness and minimize costs for future healthcare expenses, either by avoiding costly procedures or by having the coverage in place to protect your savings.
Though any time is a good time to take action, here are some considerations to protect your health and your pocketbook at each stage of life.
Looking Forward in Your Fifties
Fifty and feeling fine? That’s great news! Now is the time to focus on preventive measures to minimize potential health issues and costs down the road.
As you look toward your future, start with your eyes. They can be early indicators of other health conditions, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, anemia and cancer. Frequent changes in how clearly you can see, for example, may be a sign of diabetes or hypertension (high blood pressure).
Even if you’ve never worn glasses, vison problems and eye disease become more prevalent with age, such as worsening of near vision, dry eye, glaucoma, cataracts and more. Most eye conditions can be treated if found early, making an annual exam with your ophthalmologist or optometrist a smart choice.
Check whether your health coverage includes vision benefits, which can include coverage for eye exams and discounts on reading or prescription eyeglasses, sunglasses and contact lenses.
Even with the best eyesight, unfortunately, none of us can see into the future. In your 50s, when you’re active and independent, assisted living may not be in your plans, but the future is unknown. Ultimately, about 60 percent of people at some point in their lives will need short-term assistance with things like getting dressed, driving to appointments or making meals, either at home or within an assisted living or long-term nursing care facility. It may be helpful to consider options to ensure that you have the right coverage for potential long-term care needs.
The median cost of one year of care in a private room at a nursing home facility is $105,850, while the median cost of a private, one-bedroom room in an assisted living facility is $51,600 per year. With long-term care insurance, you can protect yourself from these expenses. Long-term care insurance reimburses you for the services needed to maintain your lifestyle if age, injury, illness or cognitive impairment make it challenging for you to care for yourself, providing you with the support you need while keeping your savings intact.
Secure and Smiling in Your Sixties
Your 60s are a great time to think about healthcare coverage and overall financial security as you head toward retirement.
For most, eligibility for Medicare coverage starts at age 65, and you can apply during the initial Enrollment Period (IEP), which lasts for seven months and includes the three months prior to turning 65, your birthday month and the three months following your birthday month. Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) can help pay for hospital costs, inpatient and outpatient care and doctor visits, but it does not cover all costs. So, you may want to explore additional Medicare-related options that allow you to find coverage that fits your individual needs. These options can help ensure you have the right coverage for your lifestyle and financial situation.
Confidence in health coverage is one more reason to smile, but don’t forget to take care of those teeth. Oral health can deteriorate with age, and over time, teeth can become more brittle and susceptible to decay, infection and gum disease. Dry mouth (xerostomia) is another common condition that affects 30 percent of patients older than 65, and it is primarily an adverse reaction to medication, though it can also result from hormonal changes or comorbid conditions, such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease.
Regular dental care can monitor and prevent disease, so twice-yearly visits to the dentist are recommended. Dental insurance provides coverage for these visits and any special procedures or treatments that may arise (implants, dentures, etc.) to help keep out-of-pocket costs down.
The Sound of Savings in Your Seventies
Have you heard? Age-related hearing loss is one of the most common conditions affecting older adults. Nearly half of all people older than 75 have difficulty hearing, and the frustrations associated with this difficulty can lead to depression as individuals withdraw from others, and in turn, accelerate the decline of cognitive abilities.
As with many health conditions, hearing problems that are ignored or untreated can get worse. Seeing a physician for a hearing test and assistance with hearing aids, medication, or even surgery may have a significant impact on your general well-being. To prepare for associated costs, you can explore hearing care programs that provide savings on check-ups, hearing aids, batteries and more.
Another place for cost savings is with prescription drugs. Data shows that nearly 90 percent of adults aged 65 and older used at least one prescription drug in the last 30 days, while more than half used at least three. As prescription costs continue to rise, this can become a significant investment.
The good news is prescription discount programs are available to help you save at thousands of pharmacies nationwide. Some of these programs are free to enroll, making it an easy way to limit your out-of-pocket costs.
Pursuing Good Health Today and Tomorrow
Looking ahead and planning for the unexpected is hard, even overwhelming, but if you break down priorities as you age, you can better focus on what’s available to you for a healthier future.
Prepare for the unknown, take care of yourself and learn more about your healthcare options by visiting https://www.aarp.org/benefits-discounts/healthcare.
AARP and its affiliates are not insurers. AARP does not employ or endorse agents, producers or brokers.