Turning 65?

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Time to Reap the Benefits of Being a Senior

If you’re nearing age 65, congratulations! You made it. You’re officially old.

Being old isn’t a bad thing. If you’re a glass-half-full kind of person, look at it this way: it beats the alternative.

Turning 65 has its benefits. But there are things you can do right now to prepare for your first day of senior citizenship.

First Things First: Discounts!

Being 65 has its perks. Mainly the senior discount. From restaurant entrees to travel, you’ll be amazed at the deals companies will offer to earn (or keep) your business. Ask about discounts wherever you go and keep more of that hard-earned retirement money in your pocket.

It’s Medicare Time. Yay?

Turning 65 means you’re eligible for the oldest-sounding word in the English language: Medicare. But which kind? Part A, Part B, Part C or Medicare Advantage? If you have no idea (or interest) in what that means, you aren’t alone. Medicare can be overwhelming. The Medicare website offers both helpful and confusing information. It may be a good idea to talk to your insurance agent or employer to find someone who can help you make sense of it.

Fill in the Gaps

Medicare Supplement Insurance (or Medigap) helps fill gaps in your Medicare coverage. If you’re nervous about losing your employer-sponsored health plan, you’ll want to look into it.

A Wellness Visit

Once you’ve signed up for Medicare, you’ll want to schedule an annual Medicare Wellness Visit. It’s a great benefit that people don’t always take advantage of. It’s a visit with a health care provider to review your medical history, perform a specific medical exam and look for ways to help you maximize your health. 

Regular Tune-Ups

Besides your Medicare exams, turning 65 is an opportunity to focus on your health. Regular checkups should be part of your strategy.

“Getting regular annual checkups is the best thing one can do to be proactive about their health,” said Harry T. Kittaka, a Primary Care Specialist at Adena Family and Internal Medicine. “Think of it as an oil change. It takes a little bit of your time, but its saves the engine in the long run. Checking in with your health care provider can catch problems earlier, which is always a good thing.”

Screenings for Men

Unfortunately for men, turning 65 (and older) makes you more vulnerable to diseases and physical ailments. That means you will probably need more frequent doctor visits than your younger self did. Talk to your doctor about:

  • Abdominal aortic aneurysms - This condition develops when the aorta swells and begins to balloon, which can lead to a potentially fatal aortic tear. Men between the ages of 65 and 75 are much more vulnerable than women, especially if you are a smoker, have a family history, are obese, or have high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
  • Vaccines -  Consider a pneumococcal (pneumonia) immunization, as well as a shingles vaccine.

Screenings for Women

Women also need to stay on top of their health after the age of 65. You and your doctor need to monitor conditions linked with aging, such as:

  • Osteoporosis - Women who are not at a high risk of osteoporosis should still receive a bone mineral density test at age 65.
  • Breast exams - Women should continue having mammograms every two years. By age 75, you and your doctor can determine whether or not future breast exams will be needed. 
  • Pelvic exams and Pap smears - If you’ve received three negative pap smears within the last ten years, you can usually stop getting pelvic examinations and smears after you turn 65.
  • Colorectal screenings – Similar to men, you should continue to receive regular colonoscopies until age 75.
  • Glaucoma tests - Women over 65 are also at risk of this eye disease that can damage your optic nerves and cause blindness. Regular check-ups with an optometrist will help lower your risk.

Remember, Aging is a Good Thing

Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones (who recently turned 78) hates the term ‘aging rock star.’ According to him, you’re either aging or dead.

Don’t think of turning 65 isn’t the start of your declining years. Look at it as the beginning of your golden years. It’s important to have a positive attitude, and that starts with your mental health.

“As we age, we go through changes physically and in the world around us,” said Dr. Kittaka. “Some retire, some continue to work and others lose friends and family along the way. All of these can affect our mental health. Knowing what reactions are normal and what ones aren’t are important to leading a happier and more productive life.”