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Living with depression can be overwhelming for anyone, but for seniors, it can be especially
difficult to cope with. This is because many seniors don’t have access to the right mental health care due to insurance limitations, and older adults can be at risk for feelings of depression due to changes in their living situation, the loss of a partner, or feelings of isolation after retirement. That’s why it’s so important to be sure of your options as a senior and to know exactly how to look for resources and help when you’re living with depression or other mood disorders.
If you currently have Medicare, it’s worth exploring your plan options since there are different levels that can help cover the cost of mental health care. You can also look for a support group — either in person or online — and think about talking to your friends and family about what your needs are. As we get older, those needs change, and it’s crucial to make sure you feel secure and comfortable enough to look for solutions.
Here are a few things to think about when it comes to your mental health as a senior.
Look for Counseling
There are many different types of counseling and therapies available for seniors through Medicare Part B, but your doctor may recommend services that aren’t covered, so it’s crucial to understand your policy fully and get to know what you’ll be responsible for. Therapy for issues such as alcohol misuse, obesity, and depression are covered, but you may be responsible for a copayment. According to MedicareAdvantage.com:
Family counseling is available for beneficiaries suffering from depression and can be covered by Medicare. Medicare also covers one depression screening per year with your primary care doctor, some partial hospitalizations, diagnostic tests and psychiatric evaluations, medication management and your yearly Medicare Wellness visit.
Your cost: Your Medicare Part B deductible applies, which – as mentioned above – is $185 per year in 2018. Once you meet your Part B deductible for the year, you will then be responsible for paying 20 percent of the Medicare-approved amount for doctor’s office visits to diagnose and treat your mental health condition.
Look for a Different Plan
Medicare offers many different types of plans for different needs; the Advantage plan will cover services that Parts A and B may not, such as eyesight and hearing exams. For older adults, this can be a huge benefit when it comes to taking care of their mental health, as vision and hearing issues can contribute greatly to feelings of depression, so take some time to go over your current plan and decide whether you should make some important changes.
Find the Right Doctor
The right doctor can help you get through any mental health issue, so it’s very important to look for a healthcare provider who will meet your needs. Think about location and proximity to your home as well, as this will make attending doctor’s appointments much easier and convenient. It might also help to ask a friend or loved one to go with you so they can ask questions and help you remember what you want to find out about.
Living with depression is never easy, but it can be especially hard on older adults. Think of ways you can help yourself feel better, from staying social to getting active and fit. Exercise is a great way to beat negative feelings and can help you get physically healthy at the same time. By taking steps to boost your mental health, you can ensure that your mind and body are balanced.
Teresa Greenhill is the co-creator of MentalHealthForSeniors.com, which is dedicated to providing seniors with information on physical and mental fitness so that they can be active and happy in their golden years.