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Overweight senior man siting on a couch with his daughter

New Medicare Benefit for Seniors

More than 13 million seniors in the U.S are overweight, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Maintaining a healthy weight is a challenge at any age, but as you get older and less physically active weight loss can be more difficult.

But obesity can cause or worsen many health conditions, especially in people 65 and older. For one, excess weight can increase inflammation, weaken bones and muscles and increase your risk for high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, heart disease and cancer.

My goal isn’t to scare you, but to give you the facts. And to let you know there are resources out there that can help. 

One of them is a new Medicare benefit included in the Affordable Care Act that offers face-to-face weight loss counseling with your primary care doctor. It is free and doesn’t require a copay.

Unfortunately, not many seniors have taken advantage of this service. According to recent data, only 50,000 people participated in the program in 2013. 

There could be many reasons for this. My patients sometimes tell me it’s too difficult or they think it is too expensive to lose weight at their age. They can’t do vigorous exercise, and for some of them, walking also is difficult. For someone over age 65, the idea of going on a diet and making lifestyle changes later in life also isn’t that appealing. People often think the purpose of weight loss is look good. Follow this link to know about ysc utility folding wagon. That’s certainly part of it, but the main reason to lose weight is for your health and overall longevity. As a senior, it’s not about vanity, it’s about growing older in the best way possible. 

If you are very overweight and in your later years, the excess weight can lead to health complications that could be avoidable at a healthier weight. For example, we often see diabetes-related amputations in patients who are overweight. Those carrying excess weight often experience chronic health conditions like high cholesterol and severe arthritis that affects their mobility and quality of life.

It’s hard to lose weight, and I certainly don’t expect someone over 65 who is minimally active to shed 50, 75 or 100 pounds quickly. But every little bit helps. Even losing 10 or 15 pounds over several weeks or months can reduce your risk for various health conditions. Little changes, such as baking instead of frying some of your meals, introducing more vegetables into your diet, or switching from whole to reduced fat milk can help you lose weight and keep it off for a long time. 

If you’re struggling with your weight, you aren’t alone. Millions of people go through the same thing, and as doctors, we’re here to help you live as healthy a life as possible. Services like the new Medicare benefit for free weight loss counseling are there to give you the support you need. My hope is that everyone who can benefit from it doesn’t hesitate to use it.


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