The Centers for Medicare & Medcaid Services (CMS) has released an updated durable medical equipment (DME) guide.
This official government booklet, Medicare Coverage of Durable Medical Equipment & Other Devices, explains:
■ What durable medical equipment is
■ Which durable medical equipment, prosthetic, and orthotic items are covered by Original Medicare
■ Where to get help with your questions
DME includes items like:
■ Home oxygen equipment
■ Hospital beds
This booklet explains Original Medicare coverage of DME and what you might need to pay. The booklet also explains coverage for prosthetic devices (like ostomy supplies, urinary catheters, enteral nutrition, and certain eyeglasses and contact lenses), leg, arm, neck, and back braces (“orthotics”), and artificial legs, arms, and eyes. It’s important to know what Medicare covers and what you may need to pay.
If you have questions about the cost of DME or coverage after reading this booklet, call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). TTY users can call 1-877-486-2048.
The following article is reprinted from the National Institutes of Health (NIH):
by Debara L. Tucci, MD, MS, MBA
Communication is an important and complex transaction that depends on visual and, often, auditory (hearing) cues. Factors that influence how well our spoken language is received include our eye contact and body language, whether we stand or sit while speaking, the tone of our voices and our facial expressions, and environmental lighting and background noise.
Individuals with hearing problems (and even those with normal hearing) may also pay close attention to a speaker’s mouth—known as lip-reading or speech-reading—to follow conversational speech. In the U.S., approximately 15 percent of adults over age 18 report trouble hearing. Hearing loss develops for many reasons, including exposure over time to loud noise. Some people are born with hearing problems, and many develop hearing loss as they grow older. Regardless of the cause, hearing loss is disabling for millions of people, including half of people in the U.S. ages 75 and older.
For most of this spring and now into the summer, cloth face coverings (face masks) and physical distancing have become the new norm in many places. Public health guidelines recommending these safeguards against the COVID-19 pandemic aren’t likely to change anytime soon. These necessary precautions can be exhausting—especially for individuals with hearing loss who may depend on lip-reading to communicate.
Cloth face coverings obscure facial features, disrupting speech perception and the emotion conveyed by the speaker. They also filter speech, making sounds less clear. When it is harder to understand speech—whether because of cloth face coverings, distance, or other factors—research suggests that we have fewer cognitive resources to process information deeply. As a result, communication suffers, and feelings of stress and isolation may increase.
Speech, language, and hearing capabilities are highly individualized. These difficult times offer all of us the opportunity to be mindful about communication. It will require extra effort. I encourage everyone to meet these challenges with patience, kindness, and a commitment to problem-solving. Speak more clearly and perhaps louder than you normally would (without shouting). If a clear face covering is available, consider using it in place of the cloth face covering you currently use, so that your mouth is visible.
Ask the person you’re speaking with if they understand what you’re saying. Another option is to ask them to repeat back what you’ve said. You can also offer to use another method (smartphone, paper and pen, whiteboard) to get your message across. And, when possible, avoid loud background noise when interacting. This can both improve comprehension in the moment and protect your hearing for the future.
View and download the infographic 8 Tips for Improving Communication when Wearing a Face Mask.
The following article is reprinted from the National Institutes for Health’s News in Health newsletter.
Positive relationships with friends and family help us thrive. Without social connections, it’s easy to feel lonely or isolated.
Many of us have been spending more time alone in our homes lately. While anyone can feel lonely, certain factors increase your risk. Major life changes or losses can increase feelings of loneliness.
Older adults are at greater risk because they’re more likely to live alone. Mobility issues can make it harder to leave the house. And sensory issues like vision and hearing loss can contribute to feeling isolated.
No matter what your age, it’s important for your health to stay socially connected. Loneliness can take a toll. It’s linked to higher rates of depression and heart disease, and can weaken your immune system. Here are some strategies to help stay connected if you’re feeling lonely.
Get your heart going. Exercise has been shown to reduce stress and boost your mood. Whether it’s sweating to a workout video or taking a walk around your neighborhood, exercise can help.
You might also consider getting a pet. Animals can be a source of comfort and companionship.
Many people are using technology to connect with friends and family virtually. Take time to reach out to others by phone or online. A call or video chat can remind you that you’re not alone.
Providing social support or helping others in need can give meaning to our lives and help combat feelings of isolation or disconnection. Learn more.
Influenza is a potentially serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death. Every flu season is different, and influenza infection can affect people differently, but millions of people get flu every year, hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized and thousands to tens of thousands of people die from flu-related causes every year. An annual seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to help protect against flu. Vaccination has been shown to have many benefits including reducing the risk of flu illnesses, hospitalizations and even the risk of flu-related death in children.
The flu vaccine causes antibodies to develop in your body about two weeks after you get it. These antibodies provide protection against infection with the viruses that are in the vaccine.
Are any of the available flu vaccines recommended over others?
For the 2020-2021 flu season, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends annual influenza (flu) vaccination for everyone 6 months and older with any licensed, influenza vaccine that is appropriate for the recipient’s age and health status, including inactivated influenza vaccine (IIV), recombinant influenza vaccine (RIV), or live attenuated nasal spray influenza vaccine (LAIV4) with no preference expressed for any one vaccine over another.
There are many vaccine options to choose from, but the most important thing is for all people 6 months and older to get a flu vaccine every year. If you have questions about which vaccine is best for you, talk to your doctor or other health care professional.
Who Should Not Be Vaccinated?
Different influenza (flu) vaccines are approved for use in different age groups. In addition, some vaccines are not recommended for certain groups of people. Factors that can determine a person’s suitability for vaccination, or vaccination with a particular vaccine, include a person’s age, health (current and past) and any allergies to flu vaccine or its components. For more information, visit Who Should and Who Should NOT get a Flu Vaccine.
Can a flu vaccine give you flu?
No, flu vaccines cannot cause flu illness. Flu vaccines given with a needle (i.e., flu shots) are made with either inactivated (killed) viruses, or with only a single protein from the flu virus. The nasal spray vaccine contains live viruses that are attenuated (weakened) so that they will not cause illness.
Is it better to get sick with flu than to get a flu vaccine?
No. Flu can be a serious disease, particularly among young children, older adults, and people with certain chronic health conditions, such as asthma, heart disease or diabetes. Any flu infection can carry a risk of serious complications, hospitalization or death, even among otherwise healthy children and adults. Therefore, getting vaccinated is a safer choice than risking illness to obtain immune protection.
Do I really need a flu vaccine every year?
Yes. CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older with rare exception. The reason for this is that a person’s immune protection from vaccination declines over time, so an annual vaccination is needed to get the “optimal” or best protection against the flu. Additionally, flu viruses are constantly changing, so the vaccine composition is reviewed each year and updated as needed based on which influenza viruses are making people sick.
With the holiday season approaching, many people will be traveling or attending gatherings with friends and family. Travel increases your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19. Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. If you must travel, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) has tips on ways to reduce your risk:
Travel during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Travel may increase your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19. Find out what to consider before, during, and after travel on the CDC’s Travel during the COVID-19 pandemic web page. If you travel, take steps to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 during your trip. Wear a mask, stay 6 feet from others, and wash your hands.
Attending an Event or Gathering
If you’re attending an event or gathering, prepare before you go by checking with the organizer or event venue for updated information about any COVID-19 safety guidelines and if they have steps in place to prevent the spread of the virus. Use social distancing and limit physical contact, wear masks, and limit contact with frequently touched surfaces.
Hosting Gatherings or Cook-outs
Help prevent the spread of COVID-19 when hosting gatherings or cook-outs. Remind guests to stay home if they’re sick, host gatherings outdoors if possible, arrange chairs to allow for social distancing, and don’t shake hands, give hugs, or do elbow bumps.
Visiting Parks and Recreational Facilities
Protect yourself and others from COVID-19 when visiting parks and recreational facilities. Visit areas that are close to your home, avoid crowded parks or campgrounds, stay at least 6 feet away from people you don’t live with, wear a mask, and wash your hands often.
The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) recommends that you wear masks in public settings around people who don’t live in your household and when you can’t stay 6 feet away from others. Masks help stop the spread of COVID-19 to others.
- Wear masks with two or more layers to stop the spread of COVID-19
- Wear the mask over your nose and mouth and secure it under your chin
- Masks should be worn by people two years and older
- Masks should NOT be worn by children younger than two, people who have trouble breathing, or people who cannot remove the mask without assistance
- Do NOT wear masks intended for healthcare workers, for example, N95 respirators
Click here to see the CDC’s full recommendations on selecting, wearing, and cleaning masks.
Since 1980, the Healthy People initiative has set goals and measurable objectives to improve health and well-being in the United States. The initiative’s fifth edition, Healthy People 2030, builds on knowledge gained over the past 4 decades to address current and emerging public health priorities and challenges.
An interdisciplinary team of subject matter experts developed national health objectives and targets for the next 10 years. These objectives focus on the most high-impact public health issues, and reflect an increased focus on the social determinants of health — how the conditions where people live, work, and play affect their health and well-being.
By using Healthy People 2030 in your work, you can help improve health nationwide! Objectives are organized into intuitive topics so you can easily find data that’s relevant to your work. And Healthy People 2030 provides evidence-based resources and tools you can use to set strategies for reaching Healthy People targets in your community, state, or organization. Start exploring Healthy People 2030 today!
The following is excerpted from “NIH News in Health”, a monthly newsletter from the National Institutes of Health.
Coping with emergencies is challenging in the best of situations. During the coronavirus pandemic, many of us are just trying to get by each day. For people with chronic (long-term) health conditions—like diabetes and chronic kidney disease—the challenges can be even greater. But with planning, you can prepare what you’ll need to make things more manageable.
“Thankfully, people with chronic medical conditions have tools to help maintain their health, even during difficult times,” says Dr. Griffin P. Rodgers, director of NIH’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Managing these conditions well can help lower your risk for complications and other diseases.
Preparing for the unexpected will help you manage a chronic health condition during a crisis. Consider packing a specialized “go-kit” for emergencies. A “go-kit” should contain:
- At least one week’s worth of medical supplies and equipment.
- Contact information for health care providers and emergency contacts.
- A medication list with doses and dosing schedules.
- A list of your allergies.
- Information about any medical devices you use.
- At least a three-day supply of any foods needed to manage your condition.
- Copies of your insurance card and photo ID.
- Copies of recent lab work you might need.
Maintaining your health doesn’t erase the risk for getting other diseases. But each healthy day is a day closer to better treatments for diseases. NIH is making a coordinated effort to help advance research on preventing, diagnosing, and treating COVID-19.
Contact your health care provider with any questions or concerns about how to prepare for natural disasters and emergencies.
Click here to read the full article from the August 2020 issue of NIH News in Health.
View the webinar featuring Dr. Tiep here: COPD and the Benefits of Pulmonary Rehabilitation
The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) offers the following recommendations on how to prepare for your next check-up:
Getting check-ups is one of many things you can do to help stay healthy and prevent disease and disability.
You’ve made the appointment to see your health care provider. You’ve reviewed the instructions on how to prepare for certain tests. You’ve done the usual paperwork. Done, right? Not quite.
Before your next check-up, make sure you do these four things.
Review your family health history.
Are there any new conditions or diseases that have occurred in your close relatives since your last visit? If so, let your health care provider know. Family history might influence your risk of developing heart disease, stroke, diabetes, or cancer. Your provider will assess your risk of disease based on your family history and other factors. Your provider may also recommend things you can do to help prevent disease, such as exercising more, changing your diet, or using screening tests to help detect disease early.
Find out if you are due for any general screenings or vaccinations.
Have you had the recommended screening tests based on your age, general health, family history, and lifestyle? Check with your health care provider to see if its time for any vaccinations, follow-up exams, or tests. For example, it might be time for you to get a Pap test, mammogram, prostate cancer screening, colon cancer screening, sexually transmitted disease screening, blood pressure check, tetanus shot, eye check, or other screening.
Write down a list of issues and questions to take with you.
Review any existing health problems and note any changes.
- Have you noticed any body changes, including lumps or skin changes?
- Are you having pain, dizziness, fatigue, problems with urine or stool, or menstrual cycle changes?
- Have your eating habits changed?
- Are you experiencing depression, anxiety, trauma, distress, or sleeping problems?
If so, note when the change began, how it’s different from before, and any other observation that you think might be helpful.
Be honest with your provider. If you haven’t been taking your medication as directed, exercising as much, or anything else, say so. You may be at risk for certain diseases and conditions because of how you live, work, and play. Your provider develops a plan based partly on what you say you do. Help ensure that you get the best guidance by providing the most up-to-date and accurate information about you.
Be sure to write your questions down beforehand. Once you’re in the office or exam room, it can be hard to remember everything you want to know. Leave room between questions to write down your provider’s answers.
Consider your future.
Are there specific health issues that need addressing concerning your future? Are you thinking about having infertility treatment, losing weight, taking a hazardous job, or quitting smoking? Discuss any issues with your provider so that you can make better decisions regarding your health and safety.
For more information on the importance of check-ups, click here: https://www.cdc.gov/family/checkup/index.htm