Healthbeat: Senior isolation poses serious health concern

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SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — Senior isolation can take a serious toll.

The effects of it can result in both physical and emotional difficulties. The holiday season can only magnify those problems.

As the deadline approaches for open enrollment for Medicare, keep in mind there are options that may provide those additional benefits that could prove to be a solution for senior isolation.

“Exercise is important,” 70-year-old Bette Wood said.

The exercise Wood is getting is something she didn’t think possible until she changed her health coverage a year earlier.

“It offers so much. You know, it also offers a personal trainer,” Wood said.

Since her age qualifies her for Medicare, she looked into a plan that covers the program “Geisinger 65 Forward.” It provides her a place to work out and participate in activities.

“Thank heavens for the exercise classes here. And the balance has improved,” Wood said. “The strength definitely, definitely improved.”

But it does something more.

“I can’t see my children. I can’t see my grandchildren,” Wood said.

It helps her avoid senior isolation during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Yeah, it’s actually becoming a health epidemic, the social isolation, you know, loneliness,” Dr. Kenneth Tomczyk, Physician at 65 Forward said.

A problem, he says, that goes well beyond feeling sad.

“It increases morbidity and mortality, cardiovascular disease, strokes, memory loss,” said Dr. Tomczyk.

Wood is able to bond with fellow 65 Forward members and even the staff.

“They’re attentive. They don’t put things off. There are things to do, people to meet,” said Wood.

All because she did her Medicare enrollment option homework.

“I think people don’t realize what options people have available to them and I think they get comfortable in the plan and they don’t realize that they should take a look at their plan options every annual enrollment period because plans can change,” said Crystal Kominski, Medicare Sales Manager for the Geisinger Health Plan.

Keep in mind the deadline for open enrollment for Medicare is Monday, December 7th. At 65 Forward, Medicare advisors are available both on site and they can even visit your home.

Head to the Geisinger website to learn all about it.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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