An article appears in today’s Sun Sentinel titled, “Few seniors go for Medicare wellness visits.” While the article points out that many seniors have not taken advantage of many of the new prevention benefits offered by Medicare, it also seems to reinforce this behavior. Specifically, it quotes a doctor from Miami who is not convinced that the Annual Wellness Visit has much intrinsic value.
"I think it's nice that Medicare is offering an annual wellness visit. But it's not the same as an annual physical exam. It doesn't offer much more than recording some information," said Dr. Joel A. Danisi, director of clinical geriatrics at the University of Miami's Miller School of Medicine.
In response to Dr. Danisi’s comments, I wrote on the Sun Sentinel’s website the following:
As someone who has taken care of Medicare patients for over 20 years, I believe that the Annual Wellness Visit is a game-changer for your health. For example, just yesterday, I saw a patient for such a visit. As is routine, we discussed his food choices. I asked him if he ate well. He said yes. I asked how much fruit he ate and he responded quite a bit. I then asked what fruit he ate and he responded that he ate mostly grapes, blueberries, and blackberries. I asked if he ate apples, bananas, citrus fruits, melons, etc. to which he responded no. While the fruits he is eating are full of nutrition, they lack several key nutrients found in some of the other fruits I’ve listed. As a result of our discussion, my patient committed to adding more types of fruits to his diet.
We also discussed his physical activity at length. It turns out that he is mostly practicing a sedentary lifestyle and we reviewed different ways that he can improve his physical fitness. These are but small examples of the value of the Annual Wellness Visit. It is the only time a doctor has to focus on the factors that can either prevent or lead to chronic disease.
Yesterday, I gave a lecture on the relationship between lifestyle and dementia to residents of a retirement community. It turns out that one of the attendees was 103. As I’ve written before, there are reasons beyond genetics why people live that long and one of them is they are curious people who take advantage of continuing opportunities to learn. The Annual Wellness Visit is an opportunity to learn what it will take for you to stay healthy. If you want to stay sharp, keep learning and get your Annual Wellness Visit while it is still available.
Here's the link to the article: