The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) reported that Medicare Wellness Programs have the ability to improve physical and mental health in seniors. The six programs have been found to help reduce obesity, prevent falls, and most importantly help those with chronic conditions.
These medicare programs are offered as a way to keep seniors informed about health issues that arrive as you get older, and help keep seniors feeling as good as possible. Some of these programs are: kidney disease education services, counseling to stop smoking and tobacco use, depression screenings, obesity screenings and counseling, and diabetes education.
Medicare enrollees that participated in the programs reported improved fitness levels than those who did not partake in the program. The CMMI found that partaking in these programs, not only improved the senior’s physical fitness, but also their mental health such as improved confidence. “This is an unexpected finding given that the intended impacts of these programs are primarily medical and physical in nature. An important secondary benefit of participation appears to be enhanced mental well-being, which may result from both lifestyle changes and knowledge gained from programs, or from the social aspects of program participation.”
There have been some concerns whether the programs are generating Medicare savings, because of how much it costs to operate them. Organizations pay about $100-$500 per patient to operate a wellness program. The study needs to have a follow up to actually determine the financial effect, but it is important to note that it has a positive outcome on the beneficiaries’ health. “While it didn’t reduce healthcare expense or utilization, it seems to have had a positive impact,” said Steve Wojcik, vice president of public policy at National Business Group of Health. These programs “prevented or delayed normal deterioration that comes with age.”
The improvements that have been reported are:
In Physical Activity and Nutrition Wellness Programs
o 14.4% Strength and Flexibility Improvement
o 7.7% Aerobic Activity Improvement
o 2.4% Mental Functioning Improvement
In Chronic Disease Management Programs
o 5.9% Confidence Increase
o 2.7% Emotional Health Improvement
o 1.7% Overall Health Improvement
In Fall Prevention Programs
o 4% Emotional Health Improvement
o 1.9% Physical Health Improvement
Seniors who have more knowledge and awareness of these programs are more likely to participate in them. Social outreach whether through the community or online can increase participation in wellness programs. Every retired senior can benefit from these wellness programs mentally and physically, which is why it is important for you or friends and family to reach out and share any information about wellness programs in your area with the seniors in your community.