Even a minor fall can lead to serious health consequences, especially for seniors. Simply tripping on a step, losing your balance, or slipping in the tub can cause injuries that can change your life. Falls can cause broken bones, fractures, and even traumatic brain injury. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 800,000 people are hospitalized each year from falls.
Seniors are at a higher risk for falls at home. Every year, one in three seniors experience a fall caused by a variety of factors, including:
- Loss of muscle strength
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Vision and hearing problems
- Medication side effects
- Low blood pressure
- Foot or leg pain
- Other health conditions such as diabetes, arthritis, or heart disease
Visit your doctor regularly to discuss any changes you’ve experienced that could contribute to physical instability. Check your vision regularly. If you experience any loss of strength, balance, or ability to perform regular activities, let your physician know. Early detection and treatment of an underlying medical issue can keep you safe and healthy. Making adjustments within your home can also help prevent falls. Consider your surroundings and remove any furniture or décor that might cause a fall, including area rugs. Studies have shown that most falls occur in the bathroom, so consider installing grab rails and non-slip surfaces for the tub and shower.
How Medicare Insurance Can Help
Despite taking the necessary precautions, falls can still occur. Getting help immediately is extremely important, and your Medicare insurance can help cover the costs of your care. Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) can help cover the costs of doctor visits and preventive care. If your physician feels that certain screenings or exams are medically necessary based on your current health concerns or family history, Medicare may help cover these expenses. Medicare Part B also covers the cost of ambulance services to or from a hospital, critical access hospital, or skilled nursing facility if other transportation could endanger your health.
If your injuries resulting from a fall require you to be admitted to inpatient care in a hospital and your physician makes an official order stating that you need two midnights of inpatient hospital care to treat your injury, Part A coverage can help. Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) may cover semi private hospital rooms, general nursing, meals, and other services required while you are in the hospital. If your fall has caused injury that requires your doctor to order medications administered while you are an inpatient, Part A may help cover those costs. If your doctor prescribes medications for you to take at home, you can be covered by Medicare Part D.
Part D is drug coverage that helps lower your out of pocket costs for prescribed medications. If you have Original Medicare, you can enroll in a stand-alone Prescription Drug Plan (PDP). You can also choose to get your Medicare Part A and Part B benefits through a Medicare Advantage Plan. MA plans are required to offer the same coverage as Original Medicare, but many offer additional benefits including prescription drug coverage.