June is Dairy Month. Do you know why you should be getting dairy in your diet?
Calcium in dairy helps build your bones and teeth and prevent breaks.
Dairy is especially important for kids. It helps build bone mass while they’re young.
A diet with dairy in it helps reduce your risk of osteoporosis later in life.
Dairy, especially yogurt and milk, is rich in potassium, which helps with your blood pressure.
A diet with dairy in it helps reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and high cholesterol.
The vitamin D in dairy helps your body maintain calcium and protect your bones.
A diet with dairy in it also helps lower your risk of type 2 diabetes.
According to Medicare.gov, a medical emergency is a situation where “[Y]ou believe you have an injury or illness that requires immediate medical attention to prevent a disability or death.”
It seems pretty straightforward, so why are there so many questions around the decision to get treatment at your local emergency room?
An emergency room (ER) provides some of the most sophisticated diagnostic options in a hospital and the most immediate care to patients in crisis.
The list of possible emergencies is endless, so it’s important for you to recognize how serious your injury or illness is and to know the best way to get treatment for it.
Many of us have heard about folks with medical emergencies driving themselves to get treatment or catching a ride with a family member. Please don’t. Driving yourself puts you and others in jeopardy and delays the start of your treatment. Dialing 911 brings you the treatment quickly and gets you to an emergency room faster than a white-knuckle trip across town, dodging traffic lights.
Dr. Frank Friedman, one of our medical directors who specializes in emergency care, said, “A true emergency is one that can’t wait. It is something causing such severe pain or such a risk to life or limb, for oneself or a loved one, that it can’t wait hours, or a day or two, to be seen by one’s own doctor or healthcare provider.”
If it’s not an emergency but you need medical care to keep an illness or injury from getting worse, call your doctor. If your doctor can’t see you right away or the office is closed, urgent care (or convenient care) can help you get treatment quickly.
Over the years, I have heard some interesting and alarming questions from our members. This FAQ can help answer those questions.
Q. I just got one of your policies, and I’m having severe chest pain. Will you cover me for an ER visit?
A. This is one of the most unsettling questions we receive. If you’re experiencing severe chest pain, don’t call your plan, call 911. It’s as simple as that.
Q. Do I have to pay a copay when I get there?
A. No, they should be able to bill you, so there’s no reason to wave your credit card around as they wheel you through the front door. In fact, under federal law, an ER has to evaluate and stabilize you in an emergency medical situation, without regard for your ability to pay.
Q. What if I have special conditions they need to know about?
A. Keep a list of your medications with you. MedicAlert’s medical IDs or the Yellow Dot program can also help you share this information. And many smart phones have features that let you add emergency contacts and medical information. Plan ahead.
Q. What are some examples of when I should go to the ER and when I should go to my doctor or urgent care?
A. Visit the ER for emergencies like chest pain, broken bones, poisoning, shortness of breath, fainting, and seizures. For things like a constant fever, strep throat, sprains, the cold or flu, earaches, or minor infections like pink eye, call your doctor or visit urgent care.
Will you recognize a medical emergency? Probably yes, so trust your judgment, act quickly, and please be careful out there.
Patrick Harness is a community liaison with a long history of experience in health insurance. If you ask him to pick a color, he always chooses orange, and he is known for his inability to parallel park.
Each year as the weather turns icy, we return to one major health topic for older adults, avoiding a fall. How big is the risk actually, though?
Truth in Numbers
No matter how healthy you are, falling is a real risk. About 1 out of 3 adults age 65 or older falls each year, but less than half of those talk to their doctors about it.
Sure, you might think, but everyone falls once in a while, right? Kids fall all the time! But your mom falling could be a lot more serious than your toddler. Falls are the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries in older adults.
In 2013, 2.5 million people were treated for nonfatal falls, and 734,000 of those had to be hospitalized. And in 2012, the medical costs from falls reached $30 billion.
They cause the most broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, and over 95% of hip fractures in older adults. And women are twice as likely as men to break a bone.
What Causes A Fall
Icy and slippery weather is of course a big reason that falls happen, but winter isn’t the only time to protect yourself and your loved ones.
Seeing is an essential part of most of our days, but as you age and your vision gets worse, it can increase your risk of falling. If you can’t see the danger, it’s harder to avoid it.
Some medications, both prescription and over-the-counter can cause side effects, like dizziness and drowsiness, that can make it more likely you’ll take a tumble.
Dangers in your homes, like tripping hazards, stairs, and slippery bathtubs, are a huge risk.
And many people who fall once are afraid of falling again and what could happen if they do. This leads them to limit their activities, lowering their mobility and fitness, which can actually increase their chances of falling and of getting hurt.
A recent study also found that many people’s falls are because of an infection, which can cause low blood pressure, which can make you feel dizzy or lightheaded. This can both lead to your fall, or make you confused about what happened afterwards.
There are ways to help stop falls before they happen:
Get your eyes checked each year, and always keep your glasses prescription as up to date as possible.
Ask your doctor to review all your meds, and see if there are other options for any drugs that might be increasing your risk of falling.
Fall-proof your home. Adding grab bars in the bathroom and railings to stairs and even improving the lighting in your home can make a huge difference.
Get enough calcium and Vitamin D from foods like dairy, soy milk, orange juice, and salmon, or take a regular supplement.
Get tested for osteoporosis.
Remove clutter. A messy house can actually increase your chance of falling at home. Learn more.
Get active! There are great options and resources for getting healthy at any age.
- Tai Chi is especially helpful for improving your balance and leg strength. Use this Tai Chi Fall Prevention Toolkit to get started now.
- Try walking outside with friends or family.
- Weight bearing exercises can lower your chance of hip fractures.
- Water aerobics is a great way to move without stressing your joints.
- Moving to the beat and changing to a rhythm are shown to reduce falls. Get dancing at your local senior center’s events, take lessons, or just let loose at home.
- We want to help, too. Our Medicare members have perks to help you get fit at a gym of your choice. Our members also get discounts at certain fitness locations.
All statistics are from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Your 2-year-old has an earache. You slip and sprain your ankle. You’re feeling chest pain. Do you know where you should be getting care in each of these cases?
It can be hard to know, but it’s important because if you go to the emergency room when it’s not actually an emergency, your insurance may not pay for your care.
A trip to the ER is usually the most expensive kind of care. The average ER visit costs more than the average American’s monthly rent.
If you don’t need help right away, you can save time and money by setting up a same-day appointment with your doctor or going to an urgent care or convenient care clinic. These usually have extended hours, you don’t need an appointment, and many clinics have them.
But when something happens and you need care right away, you should know which things you should go to an urgent care location for, and when you should go to the ER.
Emergency Room or Convenient Care?
|Visit convenient care. This needs care to keep it from getting worse, but it won’t pose a serious health risk if not treated immediately.|
|Visit convenient care. This injury isn’t life threatening, but you may need medical attention to treat it.|
|Go to the ER. This could because of a serious problem and is normally considered a medical emergency.|
A trip to the ER is usually the most expensive kind of care. If you don’t need help right away, you can save time and money by setting up a same-day appointment with your doctor or going to an urgent care or convenient care clinic. These usually have extended hours, you don’t need an appointment, and many clinics have them. Carle, for example, has a few convenient care options.
Let these examples be your guide to where you should go:
Urgent Care Situations
It’s not always easy to know if you should go to the emergency room, especially when you need to act fast. The key is to trust your judgment. If you believe your health is in serious danger, it’s an emergency.