There is a phrase in Latin, “Mens sana in corpore sano.” It translates into “healthy mind in a healthy body,” and was a popular phrase in Roman Times.
The Romans weren’t the first to make the correlation between fitness and health, but they knew that the best way to live well and long was to exercise regularly, and indeed nothing has changed for us in the 21stCentury, aside from the higher expenses due to our fitness programs. The Romans, however, were wise enough to subsidize their bath and fitness centers.
Here are some of the best ways to stay fit as we age and, more importantly, how to do so affordably through the fitness and wellness programs that are covered by Medicare.
Medicare and Fitness
One of the most difficult decisions a senior has is what plan to choose once they start Medicare. Though the original Medicare has no coverage for fitness and wellness programs, Medicare Part B and C have three fitness programs and two wellness services to offer for seniors, which either takes care of the costs entirely or can alleviate the financial burden depending on your fitness needs.
First, let’s take a look at the Medicare-funded fitness care programs for seniors.
This is the most popular, oldest, and best-known fitness program offered by Medicare. It’s been around for 25 years now and continues to be popular amongst its beneficiaries. This program involves a gym membership, which means that seniors are free to work out at a rhythm that best suits them.
Silver Sneakers offers programs in 14,400 locations spread around the US. Most seniors are likely to be close to, or not very far from one of their locations. It also offers variety with training exercises such as Zumba, yoga, water-based programs, and many other disciplines tailored to the needs of the active senior. Members are allowed full use of the facilities in question so if the participating gym around you happens to be well-supplied with equipment, saunas, or a pool, you’re free to make full use of the opportunity.
Silver & Fit
Very similar to Silver Sneakers, Silver & Fit offers many of the same options, supplemented through supplemental Medicare policies. That being said, even without these supplemental policies, you can join this program for as little as 50 dollars a year for a gym membership.
Additionally, if you’re unable to get to a gym near you, or just prefer to work out in the privacy of your own home, you can opt for a Home Fitness Program which offers a choice between two home fitness kits for as little as 10 dollars a year. Be aware that these costs may vary slightly depending on your location, so always try to contact customer service for your supplemental Medicare plan to find out if you’re covered and to learn the specifics.
SeniorPHIT (Senior Personal Health Improvement Training Program)
This is another program covered by Medicare supplemental plans in conjunction with a fitness program. Under the sponsorship of Aetna Medicare Group HMO and PPO plans, it includes:
- Membership in participating fitness centers and gyms.
- Home fitness supplies, including DVDs and resistance bands.
- Online wellness programs.
- Discounts on fitness-related products.
You need to get in touch with your Medicare customer service to receive a full and specific list of all the benefits the program has to offer at your location.
Medicare and Wellness
As previously stated, Medicare does sometimes cover wellness services if they’re deemed necessary. Unlike fitness programs that are open to all seniors, wellness services are only covered if certain criteria are met, such as medical diagnoses or health conditions. This is why it’s imperative to get your medical provider, and your doctor or geriatrician, on board before presenting yourself for some of these services.
There are two examples of the kind of Wellness Programs that Medicare provides.
Applicable for patients suffering from diabetes, and covered under Medicare Part B, these services are provided by certified nutritionists or dieticians and include counseling and life lessons on how best to deal with this disease. Part C may cover other diagnoses, though you may have to provide a copay for these services.
Physical or Occupational Therapy
So long as these services are deemed medically necessary by your medical provider, Medicare Part B covers them. The services may be offered before or after surgeries or an injury, or to treat loss of functionality. Even aquatic exercise therapy is covered so long as it’s deemed medically necessary.
Staying fit during old age may not always be easy, but it can be affordable. Get in touch with your healthcare professional or Medicare provider and find out how they can help. You can also contact our senior care consultants at Shelton Care Management if you require further assistance.