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How to Help Aging Parents Live Better #AgingWell

How to Help Aging Parents Live Better #AgingWell

How to Help Aging Parents Live Better

Truth be told, I sometimes forget that my parents are getting older. My dad is still working a full time job well past his retirement age, and my mom is very involved with writing this blog. When it comes to being active and physically fit, I have no doubt that my mom would whoop me in an arm wrestling match. Since my mom is so active, I often forget her age. I don’t always stop to think that it now has to be more difficult for her to do some of the things that she does.

I recently had an opportunity to participate in a briefing with Randall Krakauer, M.D., the Vice President and national medical director for Medicare Strategy and Innovation at Aetna. It was an eye opening experience for me. I participated in this program on behalf of Aetna and The Motherhood. All opinions are my own.

Mom and I live in the same house, so I really feel responsible to help her live better and lead a healthy life. One of the things I have realized is that I need to do more and say less. Actions speak louder than words. I can’t really expect her to take good care of herself and get more exercise, if I am sitting on the couch eating a bag of potato chips. Going for a walk is something we should be doing together. This is the first step in helping her live better.

How to Help Aging Parents Live Better

Another concern is her health insurance. This is the first year that mom is eligible for Medicare and it’s a little overwhelming. Like a lot of Boomers (90%), mom is rather tech savvy and uses a computer, but navigating through all of the options for Medicare open enrollment is daunting. It’s something we have been working on together. Having health insurance that includes prescriptions, dental and vision care is important to my mom. Not all Medicare plans include these benefits.

This fall, Aetna teamed up with on a new survey of more than 5,000 members to gauge what matters most to grandparents for healthy living. The infographic below shares some of the results.

How to Help Aging Parents Live Better

Here’s an interesting tidbit from my call with Dr. Krakauer. Did you know that grandparents don’t like to be called seniors? The survey showed that only 25% of grandparents identify themselves as seniors. Instead, most grandparents identify with the Boomer label. I guess it shouldn’t be all that surprising that active grandparents like my mom don’t consider themselves to be seniors.

Health concerns weigh heavy on Boomers. High cholesterol, high blood pressure and obesity were listed as the most common health concerns of grandparents, and only one in five grandparents say they exercise for 30 minutes three times a week. Almost 40 percent of grandparents say exercise is the hardest health habit to form, and almost one in three say they wish they had started exercising 20 years ago. But it’s not too late! I plan to do my part to get out there and walk with my mom. My dad has a bad hip and recently started going to a water aerobics class with his wife. My dad lives in a different state, so I tend to worry about him. It makes me so happy to know that he has found a way to get exercise.

How do we help our aging parents and grandparents live better? In addition to encouraging them to eat a healthy diet and exercise, we need to make sure they have the right health care coverage. Medicare Open Enrollment runs from now through December 7, 2014.

How to Help Aging Parents Live Better

3 Ways to Help Your Family During Open Enrollment
1. Take advantage of the holidays to discuss family health history with your parents and relatives
2. Help your parents or aging family members take charge of their health – make health goals for the year ahead
3. Help your family members make the most out of Medicare Open Enrollment

3 Questions to Ask Your Family Member to Get the Most Out of Open Enrollment:
1. What existing health conditions will you need to address or continue managing in the year ahead? Do you have any chronic conditions?
2. What does your current health care team look like? Are you seeing health providers outside of your current health plan’s network?
3. What does your current plan cover? Do you need more coverage for medical, prescriptions, dental care and/or vision?

3 Tips To Help Your Family Get the Most Out of Open Enrollment
1. Make a list of benefits, including prescriptions, your family member used in the last year and those they didn’t and see if they can adjust their plan accordingly
2. Consider preventive services and learn how to take advantage of them. If using Medicare, consider other programs that many Medicare plans offer –such as Silver Sneakers
3. Be a smart shopper – use resources available on sites like or to make an informed decision

Our parents have done so much for us. Helping them navigate Medicare Open Enrollment is a simple way to give back to them, and something that will have great impact. Be sure to tell your parents about the great resources available to them online at

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