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Title

Are you getting the health care you need?

Created date

August 21st, 2012
Matt Narrett, M.D., is chief medical officer for Erickson Living and directs the provision of medical care at all Erickson Living communities. He received his medical degree from Harvard Medical School and is board certified in internal medicine and geriatrics. He is coauthor of Old Is the New Young, a guide to successful aging (available on amazon.com). A recent public poll of older Americans by the John A. Hartford Foundation yielded some interesting results: Although a majority of people over 65 reported high levels of satisfaction with their health care over the past year, only about 7% of those polled said they had received certain services that are considered necessary for healthy aging. These essential services are not high-cost diagnostic tests or treatments. Rather, they are typically simple, inexpensive measures. For instance, only about two-thirds of those polled said their doctor had reviewed all of their medicines with them. Older Americans often take five medications and/or supplements (some take many more), and regular review is an important step in preventing unwanted side effects. This is particularly relevant if the status of your health changes in any way. Another example of an important health care intervention for seniors that occurs far too infrequently is screening for fall risk. According to the Centers for Disease Control, falls are the most common cause of injury and injury-related death among older adults and in some instances can be prevented. Yet almost 80% of seniors report that their doctor had not discussed strategies for preventing falls.

Barriers to care

Why do these gaps in care occur? It could be that some doctors aren t aware of what services are necessary for an older adult s best health, or they may be too busy and don t have enough time to do preventive care.

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