senior health

Spending time outdoors can be good for your health, offering everything from improved cognitive performance to decreased stress levels, according to Will Shafroth, President and CEO of the National Park Foundation, and Dr. Roy Beveridge, Humana’s Chief Medical Officer.

Next Avenue recently published a conversation between the two as they discussed the physical and mental benefits of visiting national parks and enjoying their natural beauty.

“Healthy recreation like walking, biking or playing is associated with physical, mental and spiritual health, as well as social well-being,” Dr. Beveridge said. “There is also evidence to suggest that exposure to natural environments could have a variety of positive health benefits.

“Natural environments affect human health and well-being both directly and indirectly, according to the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Environmental Science,” he wrote. “Urban green and outdoor areas provide opportunities for stress recovery and physical activity, in addition to offering spaces for social interactions, which are vital for mental health.

“Chronic stress, physical inactivity and lack of social cohesion are three major risk factors in people with poor health, and therefore exposure to abundant greenery and outdoor environments is an important asset for health promotion.”

The two noted that Humana and the National Park Foundation partnered with Florida International University and MetCare medical practices to introduce a Park Rx program that gave physicians and other care providers the ability to “prescribe” park activity to their patients. Analyzing the results showed that the program fostered better health and well-being by inspiring people to head outdoors.

“We need to make it easy for physicians to treat their patients, and not only with the necessary pharmaceuticals,” Dr Beveridge said. “We need to prescribe resources that engage patients in healthy activities that can lead to better lifestyle decisions and ultimately healthy behavior change. Physical activity is vital to achieving better health, and it’s up to us to make it easy for physicians to make those recommendations to their patients.”

Read the full conversation here.

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The medical community could improve the well-being of millions of older Americans by addressing how three social determinants of health – food insecurity, loneliness, and social isolation – are prohibiting them from achieving their best health, according to Dr. Roy Beveridge, Humana’s Chief Medical Officer.

Dr. Beveridge wrote a blog post for Forbes titled “Are Social Determinants The Missing Key To Improving Health?” He noted that such social determinants of health may be as important as our physical determinants and genetic makeup. And he cited research showing that “consumer behavior (social connectedness), socioeconomic (family and social support) and environmental factors account for 60 percent of what determines a person’s health.”

“Social determinants are creating a more complex health picture for the people they impact, and we need to address them and find solutions,” he wrote. “To do so, it’s important to understand how social determinants differ from clinical diseases and how they impact specific individuals.

“If you’re food insecure, you won’t be healthy. If you’re lonely, you don’t take care of yourself. If you’re isolated, you’re going to eventually become depressed. Social determinants can lower a person’s resolve to make important lifestyle changes, directly impacting his or her health.”

He said the medical community “needs the time, tools and reimbursement to proactively screen for social determinants of health, and this requires evolved payment models that codify and compensate physicians for these screenings. Creative solutions must be developed to seamlessly and effortlessly connect physicians with community resources as part of the patient’s care plan. Feedback mechanisms are critical so physicians know their patients are using these resources.”

He also noted that, “We have a responsibility to expand our understanding of how risk factors like food insecurity, loneliness, and social isolation affect chronic conditions and then work to evolve the ways in which we address them. … As we think of clinical contributors to health, social determinants of health must become equally as important.”

Read the entire blog post here.

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Mary Lou Griffin, a great-grandmother from Olathe, Kansas, is achieving her best health with the help of Partners in Primary Care.

Recently, Griffin went skydiving to celebrate her upcoming 84th birthday. At Glider Sports in Clinton, Missouri, she completed a tandem jump as the sun set on the western Missouri town.

A KCTV5 segment credits Partners in Primary Care in the footage, and Griffin’s story was shared online at KCTV5.com. KCTV included a brief write-up and mentioned that, “Thanks to the medical team at the Partners in Primary Care Center, Mary Lou has her medical conditions all under control, including diabetes, congestive heart failure and arthritis.”

You can check it out here.

Mary Lou was one of the first patients at Partners in Primary Care in Kansas City, and she is well-known and loved by the staff at the Olathe location.

Partners in Primary Care, a subsidiary of Humana, currently has four locations in the Kansas City area and a total of 9 across the country. Each location specializes in providing senior-focused primary care to members of Medicare Advantage health plans.

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Making the best of your retirement means tending to your health as much as your 401K, IRA or stock portfolio, says Humana President and CEO Bruce Broussard.

Bruce recently wrote a blog post for CNBC.com about the importance of taking care of your health in advance of retirement. He noted that three in four Americans aged 65 and older have multiple chronic conditions

You can read Bruce’s post here.

“When people reach retirement, they believe they can make up for decades of unhealthy behaviors — like sedentary lifestyles or poor eating habits — because they won’t be working as much and will have more time,” Bruce wrote. “While improving behavior will help at any stage, it won’t make up for years of unhealthy actions that have led to chronic conditions — from diabetes to heart disease.”

He said that having better habits now will pay big dividends later, and that the industry is evolving to make that easier.

“Technology is going to disrupt the health care experience, and it will enable us to have a highly detailed understanding of our core health numbers through advances in things like wearables, remote monitoring and electronic health records. But opening apps on your phone will only go so far,” he wrote. “Changing unhealthy behaviors starts with the individual. We all need to manage our health with the same vigilance we use for financial retirement planning. We should know our BMI numbers as well as our 401K balances.”

Read the full blog post here.

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Forbes.com has taken note of Humana’s Bold Goal progress and the importance of addressing social determinants of health to improve well-being.

“A project by health insurer Humana to measure the health of Medicare beneficiaries by asking two simple questions about mental and physical health made progress last year in four of seven cities across the country,” the Forbes story noted. “Humana’s ‘Bold Goal’ initiative uses measures established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to track an individual’s physical and mental ‘unhealthy days’ over a 30-day period.”

The story cited the 2018 Bold Goal Progress Report, which found that “Of our original seven Bold Goal communities, Humana Medicare members in Knoxville, Baton Rouge, New Orleans and San Antonio all had improved Healthy Days as well as improved clinical outcomes. Louisville, Tampa Bay and Broward County, Florida saw increases in unhealthy days, but also experienced slight improvements in clinical outcomes and in Healthy Days in Humana seniors living with conditions such as COPD, diabetes and depression.”

The story also noted that “the effort takes time and involves addressing social determinants of health going into communities with town hall meetings and addressing issues like ‘food insecurity’ or whether residents are isolated with mental illness. In the report, Humana describes social determinants as ‘conditions in the places where people live, learn, work and play (that) affect a wide range of health risks and outcomes.’”

Read the full story here.

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