Staying Healthy as We Adjust Routines
Staying Healthy as We Adjust Routines
Over the past year and a half, change has been constant. It became routine to only spend time with those in our “bubble” to keep our loved ones safe. Some were able to maintain at least some form of their typical schedule. But there were also many who felt that the pandemic completely disrupted their sense of normalcy, and, in turn, their ability to manage their health and well-being.
While we must continue to follow current local public health guidance, it’s crucial to create and maintain routines — especially as it pertains to our preventive, mental and physical care. By taking small steps, you can help your loved ones begin to make healthy aging a priority by adjusting care routines to stay healthy, connected and active within their communities. Here are some ways to navigate the first steps:
Create a new care routine
In a recent survey, half (52 percent) of the respondents said they delayed or cancelled doctor appointments, procedures, and surgeries as a result of COVID-19, according to the Health Care Insights Study by CVS Health — meaning many have some catching up to do.
If your loved ones prefer to see their doctors in person, contact their offices to understand the precautions they put in place to keep visits safe. Most offices have done a great job making adjustments.
If your loved ones find telehealth helpful for certain aspects of their health, encourage them to keep using it. Telehealth is a useful means for diagnosing and treating conditions. It also adds a layer of flexibility for those who might have trouble finding transportation to appointments or feel more comfortable speaking virtually with their doctor from their homes.
Regardless of how people connect with their doctors, routine care is necessary to maintain good health. Establish a support structure that works for your loved one, whether that be writing all appointments on a calendar, setting up phone reminders, signing up for an online patient portal, or another method that helps keep everyone on track. Routines create consistency and stability and encourage your loved ones to build better health habits.
Take care of mental health
It’s also critical to keep in mind how important our mental and emotional health is, especially for our aging loved ones. In August 2020, a Kaiser Family Foundation study found one in four adults ages 65 and older reported anxiety or depression since the onset of the pandemic — an increase from one in 10 older adults two years earlier.
If your aging loved one is struggling with their emotional health, remember there are resources that can help them address their mental health needs. For example, the app MindCheck can give you a read on your daily emotional health along with tailored advice and resources on how to improve it.
For loved ones who might need professional help, Medicare plans may help cover mental health services. Remember, telehealth isn’t just for diagnosing and treating physical conditions. It’s also an option to consider for mental health services. In fact, according to the LexisNexis 2021 COVID-19 Mental Health Impact Report, there was a 6,500 percent increase in telehealth claims for behavioral health services from January 2020 to February 2021.
A key part of staying healthy is staying active — both physically and mentally. Our communities offer many opportunities to stay healthy and active. From parks to walking trails to nature preserves, our surroundings can be a great place for exploration, alone or with others.
More traditional fitness options are often available through local YMCAs, gyms or community centers. Many Aetna Medicare Advantage members have access to SilverSneakers® fitness memberships through their plans at no added cost. This allows them to participate in group fitness classes at more than 15,000 locations. Live and on-demand workouts are also available through SilverSneakers.com or through SilverSneakers GO™ mobile app. Even those without a membership can participate in live Facebook classes and Instagram videos.
Don’t forget to keep your loved one’s mind active, too. Suggest activities that exercise the brain — such as reading, journaling or mind-stimulating games such as Sudoku, crossword puzzles or word searches. Call or FaceTime your loved ones or suggest meeting in-person when possible, taking into account local public health guidelines. By sticking to daily habits, people can reduce their feelings of loneliness or uncertainty. Slowly increasing the frequency and duration of these activities creates a sense of accomplishment as well.
Adapt as you go
If we’ve learned anything from the past year and a half, it’s that things can change quickly and without warning. While it’s important to help your loved ones establish some sense of structure, it’s perfectly normal for our routines to change with our circumstances.
Whether your loved one’s new routine resembles a pre-pandemic schedule, a brand new one or a combination of both, sticking with it can help them cope with change and create healthy habits that last. If plan A doesn’t work, don’t be afraid to make modifications and switch things up as you go. By taking things one day at a time, you can help your loved ones adapt to the changing circumstances and achieve better health.
See Evidence of Coverage for a complete description of plan benefits, exclusions, limitations and conditions of coverage. Plan features and availability may vary by service area.
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