Winter 2020-2021 Medicare Newsletter

In this issue

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The Need for Blood and Platelets is Constant

What COVID-19 is Doing to the Heart, Even After Recovery

Ask the Expert: When & How to Discuss a Loved One’s Hearing Loss

Dear Friends,

Welcome to the newest issue of Health Matters. We hope you’re staying warm and healthy this winter.

In this issue of Health Matters, we offer tips for sticking to your 2021 resolutions, how COVID-19 affects heart health, and tips for speaking to a loved one about hearing loss.

Two quick reminders: Don’t forget to get your flu shot and Medicare Open Enrollment ends Dec. 7.

As always, if you ever have any questions, please feel free to contact Member Services at 844.282.3026.

Nothing means more to us than knowing we’ve helped make our members’ lives better. We wish you and yours a happy and safe holiday season ahead.

In good health,

Nancy Horstmann
Chief Executive Officer
CHRISTUS Health Plan

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Our Outreach Coordinator is sending out health reminder letters and doing outreach calls, to help you complete important wellness visits, blood sugar tests, and breast imaging exams. These medical tests and exams are valuable in preventing harm through early detection. We look forward to teaming up with you in reaching a better level of health. For more information about our Outreach Coordinator, call Member Services at 800.678.7347.

Ask the Expert: When & How to Discuss a Loved One’s Hearing Loss

Talking to a loved one about his or her hearing loss is one of the most difficult conversations a person can have. It is very common to notice a loved one’shearing decline gradually, and it often causes people to be unaware of the problem or to minimize its impact. The fact that you (and probably others) have noticed the hearing loss means it’s time to do something about it. Following are
five suggested steps to help you through the process.

Step 1: Recognize the personal health consequences
Hearing loss can have a profound impact on various aspects of physical and mental health. Notably, numerous studies have connected hearing loss to dementia, depression and injurycausing falls. Unfortunately, the longer hearing loss goes untreated, the greater the risk of experiencing one or more of these serious, life-altering health issues. In addition, hearing loss often leads to social
withdrawal. While this may seem relatively harmless, socially isolated individuals frequently experience loneliness.

Step #2: Point out the impact on others
Hearing loss is often more obvious to family members and friends than it is to
the person experiencing it. Maybe you’ve noticed that your loved one:

  • Frequently asks you to repeat yourself
  • Relies on you to be their “ears” in social situations
  • Listens to the TV or radio at a volume that’s too loud for you
  • Avoids large family gatherings and other noisy settings

These behaviors are more than just annoying — they can detract from the quality of life of both you and your loved one.

Step #3: Be compassionate and empathetic
It can be very frustrating to live with someone who has hearing loss, and you may be tempted to lecture or lash out. However, using compassion and empathy will help you have more meaningful conversations about the effects of their hearing loss.

Step #4: Make a hearing test appointment
Once your loved one has acknowledged their hearing loss and has accepted the need for professional help, it’s time to make an appointment with a hearing health care provider.

Frame the appointment in the context of finding out exactly what’s going on with their hearing and what the solution may be. It’s important that you accompany your loved one to the appointment, because the provider will want to get your perspective on their hearing loss and its impact on your everyday life.

CHRISTUS Health Plan Generations (HMO) offers a hearing benefit through Amplifon. Be sure to schedule an appointment with one of our participating providers. The Amplifon program includes follow-up care to help your loved one make a smooth transition to their new hearing aids, as well as a supply of batteries (or charging station) and a 3-year warranty covering loss, repairs or


What COVID-19 is Doing to the Heart, Even After Recovery

A growing number of studies suggest many COVID-19 survivors experience some type of heart damage, even if they didn’t have underlying heart disease and weren’ tsick enough to be hospitalized. This latest twist has health care experts worried about a  potential increase in heart failure.

These complications, such as myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle, could lead to an increase in heart failure down the road. There is also concern about people with pre-existing heart disease who don’t have COVID-19 but who avoid coming into the hospital with heart problems out of fear of being exposed to the virus.

Nearly one-fourth of those hospitalized with COVID-19 have been diagnosed with cardiovascular complications, which have been shown to contribute to roughly 40%
of all COVID-19-related deaths.

“There’s a group of people who seem to be more affected from the cardiac point of view,” said Dr. Mina Chung, a cardiologist and professor of medicine at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University. But, she said, it can be difficult to identify who is at risk, or for those recovering from the virus to know if they’re having heart problems.

“A lot of people end up feeling exhausted for a while. They can’t get up to the exertion level they were at before. But it’s difficult to tease out whether or not it’s the lungstaking a little more time to heal or whether it’s a cardiac issue,” said Chung, who is leading the coordination of more than a dozen ongoing COVID-19 research studies funded by the American Heart Association.

Doctors advise those recovering from COVID-19 to watch for the following symptoms– and to consult their physician or a cardiologist if they experience them: increasing or extreme shortness of breath with exertion, chest pain, swelling of the ankles, heart palpitations or an irregular heartbeat, not being able to lie flat without shortness of breath, waking up at night short of breath, lightheadedness or dizzy spells.


The Need for Blood and Platelets is Constant

The American Red Cross has a constant and ongoing need for blood and platelet donations. There is no known end date in this fight against coronavirus, and the Red Cross needs the help of blood and platelet donors and blood drive hosts to meet the needs of patient care.

The American Red Cross is testing all blood, platelet and plasma donations for COVID-19 antibodies. As part of that effort, plasma from whole blood donations that test positive for COVID-19 antibodies may now help current coronavirus patients in need of convalescent plasma transfusions.

Donating blood products is essential to community health and the need for blood products is constant. The Red Cross follows the highest standards of safety and infection control, and volunteer donors are the only source of blood for those in need.

As hospitals resume surgical procedures and patient treatments that were temporarily paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic, donors are urged to give now to ensure blood products are readily available for patients. source:

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