The Importance of Medicare Health Screenings for Older Men

Man up! Even healthy senior men can benefit from a health screening.

If you’re like a lot of older men, then you probably don’t love visiting the doctor frequently. If you’re a male Medicare beneficiary (even if you feel overall happy and healthy), don’t put off what’s necessary. Now is the time to start talking to your doctor about getting screened for many conditions that commonly affect men aged 65 or older.

What conditions might I be especially vulnerable to as a senior male?

If you’ve led a fitness-rich lifestyle, you may fall into the trap of thinking you don’t need to worry about many of the common diseases and conditions associated with normal aging. However, the reality is that men aged 65 or older are especially prone to certain conditions and disabilities associated with aging, including:

Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular disease, commonly referred to as heart disease, is the leading cause of death around the world, but did you know American men are at an especially high risk for this condition, especially as they age?

Preventive screenings used to detect and treat cardiovascular disease typically include consistent cholesterol checks and frequent blood pressure readings. Common lifestyle choices a doctor may recommend in an effort to lower your risk for heart disease include eating more fruits and vegetables, getting more exercise, and quitting smoking.

Diabetes

Though Type 2 diabetes frequently affects both men and women, older men are especially at risk. Complications from diabetes can often strike suddenly without much warning in the form of observable symptoms before advancing to an unhealthy level. In turn, this can lead to an increased risk for heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure, blindness, and amputation.

Diabetes screening tests include blood glucose level readings, A1C tests, and fasting blood sugar tests. A doctor may recommend that older men who are at-risk for developing Type 2 Diabetes exercise at least a half-hour per day, as research indicates that this can cut the risk of developing diabetes by as much as half.

Prostate and Colorectal Cancer

A particularly dangerous for Medicare-aged men, prostate cancer is expected to affect approximately 200,000 men this year alone, while colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States among cancers that affect both men and women.

If you are a man aged 50 or older, are African American, or have a close male relative (father, brother, son) who has had prostate cancer, your risk increases even more. So why are screenings for these cancers considered so important? According to medical professionals, early detection is the key to recovery. 

Most doctors agree that if everyone aged 50 to 75 got screened regularly, we could avoid as many as 60 percent of deaths related to these forms of cancer.

Lung Cancer

If you’re wondering about the number one cause of cancer-related deaths in men, you’ve found it. Lung cancer is one of the most aggressive forms of cancer in existence. The chance that a man will develop lung cancer in his lifetime is currently about 1 in 15.

Perhaps related, as many as 90 percent of lung cancer cases stem from smoking. Of course, this means that non-smoking men have an advantage in preventing the disease. Still, the best way to combat lung cancer is to catch it early by way of Medicare-covered screening tests, such as the recently expanded low-dose computed tomography screening exam.

Of course, it’s never too late to quit smoking. If your male loved one smokes, encourage him to consult with a doctor regarding assistance with quitting.

Depression

Being affected by depression is in no way a sign of weakness or fragility. Men are just as likely to be impacted by depression as women, however, they are much more likely to ignore their feelings rather than seeking help. This is a stigma that the medical community is looking to erase.

It is critical to understand that depression is a treatable, medical issue. Left untreated, depression can lead to suicide, which is currently the 12th leading cause of death in the United States. As of 2020, men died by suicide at a rate that was nearly 4 times more frequently than women.

Undergoing therapy, or simply talking to someone about feelings of depression is the best way to prevent it from taking your life.

What about the costs associated with preventive screenings?

Many screening tests are considered medically necessary preventive care under Medicare Part B. This means that these screenings are often fully, or at least partially, covered by your Original Medicare plan.

Don’t put off screening just because you are worried about costs. If you are a man aged 50 or older, Medicare Part B covers a variety of preventive screening tests at know charge, including:

  • Digital rectal exams once every 12 months
  • Fecal occult blood tests
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy (colonoscopy)

Other preventive care screenings that are at least partially covered by Medicare include:

  • Cardiovascular disease screenings
  • Depression screenings
  • Diabetes screening and self-management training
  • Lung cancer screenings
  • Prostate cancer screenings
  • Yearly Wellness Visits

To learn more about what is covered by your Medicare plan, or to research and compare Medicare Advantage plans that may offer even more coverage for your healthcare needs, don’t hesitate to contact the Medicare Advantage experts and licensed insurance agents at MedicareInsurance.com today. 

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