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Yoga for Seniors and Medicare Eligibles

Yoga for seniors and Medicare eligibles is an effective way to improve your mental and physical wellness. When some people think of yoga, they may picture complex poses with intricate twists. That image of an unattainable exercise may make the ancient practice seem intimidating.

However, yoga doesn’t have to be intimidating or unattainable. Yoga has many health benefits, and it can even be included in certain Medicare plans.

Health Benefits of Yoga for Seniors

Yoga combines physical movements, breathing, and meditation into one exercise. If you struggle with joint pain, balance issues, body stiffness, sleep issues, stress, or anxiety, yoga may be able to help! The health benefits of yoga for seniors and Medicare eligibles are as follows:

Balance and Stability

As you age, your risk of falling increases. Yoga focuses on slow and measured movements and the strengthening of your muscles. These exercises can help keep you upright and strong to avoid tripping or falling. Your focus, strength, and body alignment can all improve with yoga and increase your balance and stability.

Flexibility

At any age, stretching is important. Simple tasks, like tying your shoes, can quickly become difficult without proper daily stretching. Yoga allows you to increase your flexibility through each exercise.

Breathing

Respiratory limitations can be developed when our oxygen level begins to deplete. Studies have shown that after twelve weeks of yoga, many seniors and Medicare eligibles have seen significant respiratory improvement. Plus, the deep breathing exercises that encompass basic yoga sequences and poses can improve overall lung function in a low-impact environment.

Stress and Anxiety

Yoga for seniors and Medicare beneficiaries can help reduce stress and promotes mental clarity. Yoga is so much more than just “stretching.” It is a practice that requires both the mind and body. Meditation and relaxation are heavily incorporated. These exercises can help you be more mindful and aware of the present moment in time.

Yoga for Obese Seniors

According to the Mayo Clinic, yoga may be a “useful addition to an overall weight-loss plan.” You may not burn as many calories with yoga as you do with aerobic exercise, but it can help improve your self-esteem and overall mood.

Obesity can put excess stress on your joints, and yoga may be a safe form of exercise that may not cause additional pain.

If you want to do yoga, it may be a great addition to a comprehensive fitness program that includes aerobic activity such as cycling or walking.

Beginning Yoga for Seniors and Medicare Eligibles

Yoga doesn’t have to be intimidating. There are gentle yoga poses for seniors and Medicare eligibles and some poses incorporate chairs to help aid any balance or stability issues.

Gentle Yoga Poses for Seniors and Medicare Eligibles

Simple yoga for seniors and Medicare eligibles is generally low-impact and great for beginners. There are numerous gentle yoga poses for seniors and Medicare eligibles that are available, but the most popular are as follows:

Seated Forward Bend: Sit on the floor and keep your legs straight in front of you. Inhale and lean forward as far as you can. To avoid potential injuries, never force or push your body. This pose can calm the brain and help relieve stress. It stretches the spine, shoulders, and hamstrings and stimulates your liver and kidneys.

Legs Up The Wall: Find a sturdy wall and bring your tailbone as close as possible and raise your legs. Stay in this position for 10-15 minutes and focus on your breathing. This pose reduces gravity on your body and helps calm the nervous system.

Easy Pose: This yoga pose has been depicted as far as 2,000 years ago. Keep your back straight and cross your legs. This pose is great for meditation and breathing exercises. This pose comes naturally to children, but as you age, it may become more difficult. With practice, you can open your hips and help your spine return to proper alignment.

Corpse Pose: Lie flat on your back with your feet spread shoulder-width apart. Have your palms facing upwards. This pose is usually done at the end of your yoga practice and is more than just laying down. It relaxes your whole body and can release any stress, fatigue, or tension you may have.

Yoga for Seniors | Medicare Plan Finder
Gentle Yoga Poses for Seniors and Medicare Eligibles | Medicare Plan Finder

Chair Yoga Poses for Seniors and Medicare Eligibles

If the balancing aspect of yoga intimidates you – good news, a chair can help! Many yoga poses can be modified to incorporate a chair. There are still significant benefits to this type of yoga, and it is very popular among people who have balancing issues. The following are chair yoga poses for seniors and Medicare eligibles:

Forward Fold: Sit in a chair and bend forward. When you inhale, raise your arms over your head and reach as far as possible. This yoga pose stretches your hips, hamstrings, and calves. This pose calms the brain and relieves stress. Plus, it stimulates your livers and kidneys and improves digestion.

Spinal Twist: When you are sitting on a chair, reach back as far as you can and twist your torso. It’s important to keep a good posture while twisting. This can lengthen, relax, and align your spine. Plus, it stretches your entire upper body. This can prevent your spine from becoming stiff and can help you maintain a normal spinal rotation.

Pigeon: The normal Pigeon pose can be quite difficult for seniors to do, so a chair can help tremendously! Sit up straight in your chair and keep your feet shoulder-width apart. Bring your right or left leg onto the other knee. Push the knee downward, and if possible, pull your foot up slightly. Repeat this 3-5 times and then switch to the other leg. Pigeon pose helps open your hip joints and helps lengthen your hip flexors. It can also help prevent or relieve sciatica pain.

Cat and Cow: Keep your feet flat on the floor and keep your back straight. When you inhale, arch your spine and roll your shoulders back. When you exhale, arch your spine the other way and drop your chin to your chest. This is great for breathing exercises. This stretches the lungs and chest, which makes breathing easier. This also stretches the hips, back, and abdomen.

Chest Expansion: Sit as straight as possible and reach your hands to the back of your chair. Lift your chest and take a deep breath. Do this for 3-5 breaths and then repeat. This strengthens your hand, arm, shoulder, and back muscles.

Chair Yoga for Seniors | Medicare Plan Finder
Chair Yoga for Seniors | Medicare Plan Finder

For more yoga poses for seniors, check out this video “Yoga for Seniors” by Yoga With Adriene:

Does Medicare Cover Yoga?

Original Medicare does not cover yoga or any other fitness classes. However, certain private insurance plans called Medicare Advantage cover the same benefits as Original Medicare (Part A and B) and can cover additional benefits such as vision, dental, and hearing coverage along with coverage for fitness classes.

These plans are growing in popularity. According to the Henry J Kaiser Family Foundation, enrollment has tripled to 19 million beneficiaries since 2003.

SilverSneakers ® Yoga Classes

Medicare SilverSneakers® is a fitness benefit found in many Medicare Advantage plans. SilverSneakers® hosts fitness programs for seniors that focus on general fitness, strength, flexibility, and walking ability for seniors and Medicare eligibles just like you. Medicare SilverSneakers® fitness events can also help seniors find new friends who also want to pursue an active lifestyle.

SilverSneakers® yoga classes provide a unique opportunity for seniors and Medicare eligibles to practice yoga in a judgment-free, inclusive group. These classes often incorporate chair yoga poses for seniors and Medicare eligibles.

More than 65% of leading Medicare Advantage plans include Medicare SilverSneakers.® This is generally provided at no cost.

Plus, there are over 11,000 locations across the US that offer SilverSneakers® yoga classes. Once you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan that includes SilverSneakers® yoga, you will have access to any participating facility.

Medicare Fitness Programs

How to Find SilverSneakers ® Yoga Classes Near You

The SilverSneakers® website has a location finder so you can find participating gyms with classes near you. To get started, click here. You’ll come to the SilverSneakers® homepage, which looks like this. Click on the magnifying glass with the word “Locations” under it.

How to Find SilverSneakers Yoga Near You Step 1 | Medicare Plan Finder
How to Find SilverSneakers ® Yoga Near You Step 1 | Medicare Plan Finder

That will lead you to the location finder tool. Enter your zip code in the search bar as shown in red. We chose 37209, which is the zip code for our corporate offices in Nashville, TN. Then click the carrot shown in green. After you do that, select SilverSneakers® as shown in blue. The final part of this step is clicking the magnifying glass shown in yellow.

How to Find SilverSneakers Yoga Near You Step 2 | Medicare Plan Finder
How to Find SilverSneakers Yoga Near You Step 2 | Medicare Plan Finder

The next page lists the SilverSneakers® partners in your area. Clicking the listed gym names will show you the amenities at each location. We only clicked on the first location for demonstration purposes.

How to Find SilverSneakers Yoga Near You Step 3 | Medicare Plan Finder
How to Find SilverSneakers ® Yoga Near You Step 3| Medicare Plan Finder

Here, you can see that the Gordon Jewish Community Center offers SilverSneakers® yoga classes in red. Use the contact information shown in blue to learn how to get started.

How to Find SilverSneakers Yoga Near You Step 4| Medicare Plan Finder
How to Find SilverSneakers Yoga Near You Step 4| Medicare Plan Finder

Enroll in Medicare Advantage

If SilverSneakers® yoga is something you’re interested in, then you should consider enrolling in a Medicare Advantage plan.

If you interested in enrolling in the best MA plan for your needs and budget, fill out this form or call us at 833-438-3676 to speak with a licensed agent. These appointments are no-cost to you and obligation-free. Our licensed agents can answer any questions you may have, and best of all, make sure you get SilverSneakers® yoga.

Find Medicare Advantage Plans | Medicare Plan Finder

This post was originally published on October 25, 2018, by Kelsey Davis and was updated on November 18, 2019, by Troy Frink.

Home Care Services vs. Senior Assisted Living

Nearly half of everyone over the age of 65 needs some form of assistance in their daily routine. That’s approximately 18 million seniors! When choosing between home care services and senior assisted living, it’s important to consider the costs, qualifications, and available services before making a final decision.

Home care services allow you to get the assistance you need in the comfort of your own home and is great for anyone who is chronically ill, disabled, recovering from surgery, or needing basic assistance. Senior assisted living is an affordable way to get 24/7 care that includes interaction with other residents and eliminates the need of hiring, scheduling, or managing caregivers. This is great for those who have difficulty moving around and require more medical supervision. Both home care and assisted living focus on providing care, but the specifics of what is provided differ.

What Services Does Home Care Provide?

The three major types of home care services are:

Personal Care and Companionship

Personal care and companionship can provide assistance with self-care including bathing, grooming, and dressing. They also help with fall prevention by assisting with movement around the home. Meal preparation, cooking, light housekeeping, laundry, and other errands are included. Plus, this type of care allows you or a loved one to have companionship which can help with isolation issues, especially in the winter. Personal care and companionship can be long or short-term and is great for those who need basic help around the home.

Private Duty Nursing

Private duty nursing can help with basic medical services inside the home. This includes monitoring vital signs and administering medications. Ventilator, tracheostomy, gastrostomy, catheter, and feeding tube care may also be included. Private duty nursing care is typically long-term and is ideal for those who have a chronic illness, injury, or disability.

Home Health Care

Home health care includes several short-term nursing services. This includes physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, medical social work, and other home health aide services. Home health care is often short-term and is recommended by a physician. Home health care can help patients recover from an injury, illness, or hospital stay.

What is Assisted Living for Seniors and Medicare Eligibles?

Senior assisted living provides 24/7 care, meals, housekeeping, laundry, transportation, recreational activities, and wellness programs. Plus, facilities may offer on-site pharmacies, physical therapy, and even salon services.

Another large benefit of assisted living is social activities and entertainment. Many facilities have common areas including libraries, cafes, and game rooms. Plus, there are several social activities offered like gardening groups, book clubs, and movie nights.

Senior assisted living can help you or a loved one rest easy knowing that all care is personalized to meet any and all health needs.  Emergency first aid, medication management, pharmaceutical services, and maintenance of medical records is often provided to residents. Some facilities have a staff physician who provides routine checkups.

Senior Assisted Living and Home Care Services Costs

It’s important to look at the price tag when making a decision. Home care and assisted living offer different services and their prices reflect that.

What Does Home Care Cost?

The cost of home care services is unique to each situation. According to NPR, the average costs for home care services are:

  • Personal Care and Companionship: $70/day or $18,200/ year
  • Private Duty Nursing: $19/hour or $19,760/year
  • Home Health Care: $21/hour or $21,840/year

There are several companies that provide home care services, but the prices will vary. Plus, there are several other costs that are not included. Keep these in mind when looking at your budget. These costs include groceries, personal hygiene items, household items, transportation, rent or mortgage, utilities, and maintenance.

What is the Average Cost of Senior Assisted Living?

The type of residence, size of the apartment, services included, and location of the community are all factors that can increase the overall cost of senior assisted living. Costs can range from $2,200 to $6,000 per month depending on the cost of living for each state. However, keep in mind these are all-inclusive costs and eliminate the cost of rent, utilities, maintenance, meals, and personal care if you or a loved one lived at home.

Senior Assisted Living and Home Care Services Qualifications

Assisted living and home care each have a specific set of qualifications. Before finalizing on a plan option it’s crucial to know if you qualify.

How Do You Qualify for Home Care?

Within the three types of home care, personal care and companionship is the only type that doesn’t require a prescription. Plus, if Medicare or Medicaid is covering some of the costs, there are different qualifications. To qualify you must meet the “homebound” criteria as established by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid and require skilled care on a part-time basis in order to improve or maintain your health issue. If you meet these requirements, Medicare will cover your costs, but only if you receive your care from a Medicare-approved home health agency.

Who Qualifies for Assisted Living Facilities?

Qualification for senior assisted living is largely dependent on the level of care a resident needs. You or a loved one may qualify if assistance with daily living facilities like personal care, hygiene assistance, mobility, meals, and medication management is needed.

Those who require daily nursing services from extensive medical needs may not qualify. The application process is the same regardless if you or a loved one lives in a private residence, rehabilitation center, nursing facility, or a hospital. The typical application process includes facility admission paperwork, medical history, physical, and tuberculosis (TB) test or chest x-ray.

Role of Medicare and Medicaid

Medicare only covers the third type of home care services: home health care. The only cost you may have is 20% of the Medicare-approved amount for durable medical equipment. Medicare typically does not cover the costs of senior assisted living. However, Medicare may cover qualified healthcare costs while living in the facility. This includes doctor visits, lab tests, certain preventive services, physical therapy, and medical supplies.

Medicaid may cover some of the costs of home care services, but the coverage will vary by state. In some cases, Medicaid can be used to pay for some assisted living costs through a Medicaid waiver, but there is often a waiting list.

Making a Decision

Home care services and senior assisted living are two options that could greatly impact you or a loved one’s quality of life. There is an abundance of information available which can make finzaling a decision difficult. Are you a caregiver and looking to help a loved one? Our Ultimate Aging Parents Checklist can help you prepare for what is often a tough decision and discussion.

Medicare and Medicaid may only cover a small amount of the total costs. However, Medicare Advantage plans may provide additional coverage beyond Original Medicare and include benefits like hearing, dental, or vision coverage.

At Medicare Plan Finder, our goal is to make sure you have the coverage and benefits that enable you to live the healthiest lifestyle possible. Plus, we make sure you are informed on important information like the Medicaid look-back period and how Medicare and Medicaid work together. Our licensed agents can help answer any questions you may have about Medicare Advantage, prescription drug coverage, and Medicare supplements. If you’re interested in arranging a no-cost, no-obligation appointment, call us today at 833-438-3676 or fill out this form.

Vitamin D for Seniors and Medicare Eligibles

Vitamin D, also known as the “sunshine vitamin,” is essential. It helps absorb calcium, which is necessary for bone health and strength. Over an extended period of time, vitamin D deficiency can result in obesity, diabetes, hypertension, depression, Osteoporosis, and more. Vitamin D for seniors and Medicare eligibles becomes increasingly important with age, so it is important to understand the recommended dosage and the symptoms of deficiency.

Why is Vitamin D Important in the Elderly?

If you are deficient in vitamin D, your body may start to lose bone tissue. This can lead to bone pain, muscle weakness, and even skeletal deformity. Seniors and Medicare eligibles who get the recommended dose of vitamin D every day are more likely to lower their risk of cardiovascular issues, cancers, bone disorders, and diabetes. Plus, it can lower the chance of early nursing home admission, encourage physical independence, and act as a form of fall prevention.

How Much Vitamin D Does a Senior Need?

It can be extremely difficult to get enough vitamin D through diet alone. Sunshine and vitamin D supplements are beneficial alternatives. The recommended dose of vitamin D for seniors age 70+ is, at a minimum, 800 IU* per day. For those less than 70 years old, the adequate intake is, at a minimum, 600 IU per day. Blood tests are a great way to see if you are getting the right amount of vitamin D. However, it’s important to understand that you can have too much vitamin D. An excess can cause vomiting, weakness, and excess urination. Your daily vitamin D intake should never exceed 4,000 IU per day.

*IU stands for international units and is used to measure fat-soluble vitamins. This includes vitamins A, D, and E. You will notice that these vitamins will use “IU” on their labels instead of MG.

[click_to_tweet tweet=”The recommended dose of vitamin D for seniors age 70+ is, at a minimum, 800 IU* per day. Do you get enough? #SeniorHealth https://www.medicareplanfinder.com/blog/vitamin-d-for-seniors-medicare-eligibles/” quote=”The recommended dose of vitamin D for seniors age 70+ is, at a minimum, 800 IU* per day. Do you get enough? #SeniorHealth”]

Typical D3 Dosage for Seniors and Medicare Beneficiaries

There are two main forms of vitamin D for seniors and Medicare eligibles – vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). D2 can be found in plant foods like mushrooms and D3 can be found in sunlight and animal foods like salmon or eggs. D2 does not occur naturally in your body, but D3 is produced in the skin when exposed to sunlight. Experts believe that D3 is at least three times more potent than D2 and is more stable, safe, and beneficial to the body.

Symptoms of Vitamin D Deficiency in Elderly People

Vitamin D Deficiency in elderly people is common due to smaller food intake, less exposure to sunlight, and reduced skin thickness. It’s important to listen to your body so you can take the proper steps to rectify the issue. Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency in elderly people include:

Weak Muscles

In general, adults often feel their muscles get heavier with age. This can actually be linked to a Vitamin D Deficiency. This means that if you have difficulty standing up or climbing the stairs, you may not be getting enough vitamin D.

Common Sicknesses

Vitamin D makes sure your immune system is strong and helps fight off illness-causing viruses and bacteria. If you get sick easily and often, especially with colds or the flu, low vitamin D could be a contributing factor. Plus, researchers have found links between vitamin D deficiency and respiratory infections. Studies have shown that increasing your vitamin D intake can decrease your risk of infection.

Weight Gain

Researchers claim that vitamin D and a hormone called leptin work together to regulate your weight. Leptin works by signaling your brain that you are full and to stop eating. If you are deficient in vitamin D, the leptin signaling process may not function properly. Overeating and weight gain can be an indicator that you need more vitamin D.

Fatigue

There are many reasons you may be feeling tired, but a vitamin D deficiency is often overlooked. There have been several observational studies that show correlations between low vitamin D levels and fatigue. When the vitamin D dosage was increased, the tiredness and fatigue subsided.

Stomach Problems

Since vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, a deficiency can trigger digestive problems like inflammatory bowel disease. Digestion problems can be extremely uncomfortable and negatively impact the fat absorption process.

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Medicare Advantage and Part D Plans

If you think you may have a vitamin D deficiency, visit your doctor before taking corrective action. A blood test is the most accurate way to measure vitamin D in your body. Unfortunately, in most cases, Original Medicare only covers blood tests for at-risk individuals.

Medicare Advantage plans can provide additional coverage for bloodwork. In some cases, MA plans with prescription drug coverage will even include some coverage for over-the-counter medications like vitamin D supplements! Talk to a licensed agent about finding out whether a plan in your area offers these benefits. A great first step is to download our Part D checklist that can help you figure out what prescription coverage you need out of your health care plan.

Our licensed agents can help you understand all of your plan options and enroll you in a plan that fits your needs and budget. If you’re interested in arranging a no-cost, no-obligation appointment, fill out this form or call us at 833-438-3676.

The Medicaid Look Back Period: What You Need to Know

What is the Medicaid look back period?

Medicaid is designed to provide health care to those with low income or limited assets and is administered through each state. When applying for Medicaid, the state social security office is responsible for confirming you have limited income and assets. The Medicaid look back period is a period of time the office will review to see if you sold, donated, transferred, or gifted any of your assets. The period is 5 years for every state except California where it is 2.5 years. This period starts on the date you apply for Medicaid.

Is there a penalty?

Yes, there is! If the social security agency finds that you sold, donated, transferred, or gifted any of your assets beyond the granted exemptions, you will have a penalty. The penalty is a length of time that you will be ineligible for Medicaid. This is called the penalty period, and there is no limit on the amount of time you can be penalized for.

The penalty is based on the dollar amount of sold, donated, transferred, or gifted assets divided by the monthly private patient rate of care in a nursing home. For example, if you gifted $60,000 during the look back period and the average monthly cost of nursing home care is $4,000, your penalty would be 15 months of Medicaid ineligibility ($60,000 gift/$4,000 average month cost = 15 months).

 Can you avoid the penalty?

Planning is key in an attempt to avoid the penalty. Did you know you can gift up to $15,000 a year without paying a gift tax? This is a great option if you’re wanting to leave a certain amount of your savings to a child or loved one. If you want to gift $60,000 it will take 4 years to avoid taxation. This means that you would need to start gifting 9 years before applying for Medicaid to avoid the look back penalty.

Are there exemptions?

Fortunately, there are exceptions that allow applicants to transfer assets without a penalty. The exceptions include:

  • Spouses

Medicaid applicants can transfer a certain amount of their assets to their spouse. The spouse cannot be in the Medicaid application process and must plan to live independently in the community. The total amount of assets able to be transferred will change annually, but in 2018 the limit is $123,600.

  • Disabled Children

Applicants can transfer their assets or establish trust funds for disabled children who are under the age of 21, including children who are legally blind.

  • Siblings

A home can be transferred to a sibling who has equity in the home and resided in the home for a minimum of one year prior to a nursing home placement.

  • Caregivers

Applicants can transfer their home to their adult children if they lived in the home for a minimum of two years before the Medicaid application was started. The child must be the primary caregiver.

  • Debt

Applicants can pay off their debt without a penalty.

If you’re interested in learning more Medicaid information that is specific to your state, visit our Medicaid by State page. Plus, you may be eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid! Our licensed agents can help answer any questions you may have and help you sort through your health care options. To get started, fill out this form or call us at 833-438-3676.

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