Sam Bauman: American seniors unhealthier than other countries
For the Nevada Appeal
Today’s seniors in America are certainly healthier than before Medicare and paying less for their care — but how do they compare to other nation’s seniors? Not as well.
A Commonwealth Fund survey of 11 countries finds that seniors 65 and older in the United States are the least healthy — most likely to suffer from chronic illnesses, including high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, lung problems, mental health problems, cancer and joint pain/arthritis.
More than half the U.S. seniors say that they are taking four or more prescription drugs; other countries were below 50 percent.
And despite Medicare, money was a problem. Nearly one in five said that in the past year they “did not visit a doctor, skipped a medical test or treatment that a doctor recommended, or did not fill a prescription or skipped doses because of cost.”
In other countries, with more socialistic health care systems, seniors seem to be doing better, physically and financially. Reason — our system doesn’t kick in until 65. Critics of socialized systems say that patients wait longer to see a doctor. The survey found some support for that. Does it take more than four weeks to get to see a specialist? U.S. seniors had the highest percentage of those who waited less than that. With regular doctor’s appointment, the U.S. trailed seven of the other 10 countries.
A bright spot for U.S. seniors. They were the most likely to have developed a treatment plan that they could carry out in daily life. And their doctors “discussed their main goals and gave instructions on symptoms to watch for” and talked with them about diet and exercise.
RENO VA MEDICAL FACILITY UPDATES
For those who claim the Feds never get anything right. The VA in Reno begs to differ. As one who has used the facility for years I’ve always been pleased with the promptness of appointments there. When you appointment is for 11 a.m., you usually get in no later than 11:05 a.m. Medications can be ordered by email and the costs are quite low.
As Carson seniors have noticed at the VA Reno there’s something new there. It’s a roomy, comfy restaurant that severs everything from 99-cent breakfasts to full course meals, usually below $5. All very quickly ordered and served and tasty. Just had a very tasty kind of ham and cheese sandwich for $1.99. Delicious!
But then the Reno VA was never charged with faking services as some VA facilities were. They were good there and they continue to be good.
A UNIQUE ADVENTURE
I recently stumbled across as article in “Departures” magazine that almost made me write out a check for an adventure at the Mustang Monument Ranch, 800 square miles of open land and home to 650 mustangs roaming three valleys and two mountain ranges outside Wells.
It’s a kind of dude ranch for mustang champions, created by Madeleine Pickens animal rights champion, philanthropist and business woman.
This is not one of those super resorts; there are 10 strikingly painted tepees and 10 cabins. Service is all informal and Monty Heath, a certified cowboy and director of operations and trail riding guide, welcomes guests along with Pickens (born in the Mideast and raised overseas).
Pickens spends four months a year at Mustang Monument, open June to September,and guests are there for four days of outdoor adventure, including riding with the 650 wild mustangs.
Cost can be a problem at $4,800 for two guests. But the experience can make casual mustang fans into those devoted to the mustang as the embodiment of the West.
Sam Bauman writes about senior issues for the Nevada Appeal.