Use Annual Wellness Visit as an Early Screening Tool for Cognitive Health

July 2, 2013

DALLAS, TX---Researchers have estimated that more than a third of people over the age of 70 have some form of memory loss.
As health providers place added emphasis on cognitive care and fitness, there are more tools than ever to screen for symptoms, noted Dr. Mary Norman, Vice President & Regional Medical Director for Highland Springs retirement community in Dallas.
One of those opportunities is the Medicare-covered Annual Wellness Visit.  On May 30th, Dr. Norman spoke to colleagues in Boston during a conference on dementia care.  The session was coordinated by the Harvard Medical School's Department of Continuing Education.
"The annual wellness visit is covered 100 percent by Medicare.  Its purpose is to develop a personalized health and wellness plan by setting goals for conditions like blood pressure and high cholesterol and screening for certain cancer disease and bone health," stated Dr. Norman.  "But it can also serve to measure signs of memory loss."
With their patients, physicians can review individual and family medical history.  They can also directly observe the patient's ability to recall their current medications and repeat simple instructions.
"If early symptoms are observed, it is the appropriate time for the physician to refine the patient's personalized health and wellness plan," stated Dr. Norman.  "Issues to be addressed could be home and driving safety, medication utilization and the management of aggravating factors such as diabetes, hypertension and smoking."
She notes that Medicare covers the initial Annual Wellness Visit and subsequent Annual Wellness Visits every twelve months to update the health and wellness plan.  An important distinction is that the Annual Wellness Visit is not the same as the "routine physical check-up" that some seniors may receive every year or two from their medical professional.
"As Highland Springs now offers memory health services in our continuing care neighborhood, I see more than ever how an integrated approach helps residents improve their lives," said Dr. Norman.  "But taking control of our well-being requires a first step, which in this case is as easy as scheduling an annual wellness visit."
Dr. Mary Norman is Vice President and Regional Medical Director of Highland Springs, an Erickson Living retirement community in North Dallas.  She can be reached at 972-232-8000 or [email protected]

About Highland Springs:  Highland Springs is one of sixteen continuing care retirement communities managed by Erickson Living.  Located in North Dallas, Texas, the scenic 89-acre campus is home to more than 600 residents.  Highland Springs is the ideal greater Dallas retirement destination offering a true sense of community, convenience beyond compare and a sensible financial structure.