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Archive February 2022

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Latest Tivity Health Survey Delivers Insights

The results are in from Tivity Health’s latest survey of participants in its Silver Sneakers program. The survey, fielded in January 2022 amidst the COVID-19 omicron wave, asked these Medicare Advantage enrollees how they are faring socially, physically and emotionally.
 
Socializing
  • A plurality of respondents (32%) indicated that talking on the phone is their first choice for how to socialize, 28% prefer to socialize in-person (outside or inside) and 18% stated text messaging was their first choice.
  • 22% of respondents said they connected with others just once or twice in the past month and 12% said they haven’t at all. 
COVID-19 Disruption
Stress and worry are at multi-month highs
  • 42% of survey respondents have experienced social isolation in the past week.
  • 39% are disrupted by the inability to visit friends and family and 24% are disrupted from their normal routines.
  • Concerns for the health of friends and family is once again the highest driver of respondent distress (59%), followed by not knowing when things will return to normal (56%) and concerns about personal health (55%). 
Fitness Routine/Return to the Gym
  • 76% of respondents rate their physical activity as the same or better than three months ago—a lower proportion compared to previous reporting periods.
  • Among the 24% whose physical activity declined, lack of motivation remains the primary driver, closely followed by respondents trying to limit time outside due to COVID-19.
  • 68% of respondents plan to exercise in the next three months, 82% of frequent gym going respondents will do the same.
  • 35% of gym going respondents are back in the gym, another 36% plan to be and 15% of gym going respondents will not return.
  • 90% of respondents who plan to return to the gym will do so within three months.
  • Having a routine is the top driver for returning to the gym. 
Nutrition
  • 13% of respondents report being worried food will run out before having money to buy more (same as last wave).
  • 17% of respondents report eating habits which are worse since the pandemic, while 73% report their eating habits are about the same.
  • Snacking and having an inconsistent meal routine are the most common reason for respondents’ decline in eating habits.

New Research Provides Insight into How AAAs Build and Maintain Health Care Partnerships

As AAAs and health care organizations increasingly work together, it has become clear that these partnerships can contribute to improved health outcomes and lower costs. However, knowledge about successful collaborations is limited. To learn more, USAging, Yale University, the University of California Berkeley and Scripps Gerontology Center conducted qualitative research about these partnerships. The research, published in an article in The Gerontologist, identified key features of organizational culture within AAAs that lead to successful partnerships.

Hope on the Horizon for FY 2022 Negotiations

If you are trying to imagine what negotiations look like for congressional leaders working on appropriations at this stage, we would say a hearty game of volleyball is your best bet. While we hoped for a resolution this month, the House had to pass a short-term continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government through March 11 under FY 2021 levels. Senate passage of the CR is expected next week. Meanwhile, hope for bipartisan support and passage of a FY 2022 spending package grows, bolstered by an announcement this week that congressional appropriators had reached a preliminary deal on overall spending levels.
 
This week’s successful appropriations negotiations between Republican and Democratic leaders moved us one step closer toward a full-year funding bill with potentially historic increases for OAA and other aging programs. The agreed-upon big-picture framework now allows the more granular negotiations at the subcommittee level to begin—where the devil lies in the details.
 
Speaking of details, the lack of any in the preliminary deal announcement gives us pause. Without solid numbers, we are concerned that there is still too much divisiveness and that a final deal may still be difficult to reach. So, before we celebrate, we must continue to advocate. We need to elevate our opposition to a year-long CR and we need your continued advocacy to ensure that the OAA receives ample new spending thresholds that better reflect the true cost of the essential programs and services you provide.  
 
Over the course of the next month, we will continue to press for improved FY 2022 funding levels. Stay abreast of USAging’s most recent Advocacy Alerts and visit the Appropriations Campaign page to help you connect with your elected officials on this and other critical issues.

Tivity Health Survey Delivers Insights on the Needs of Silver Sneakers Participants

The latest results are in from a Tivity Health survey of participants in its Silver Sneakers program. The survey sheds insight into how these Medicare Advantage enrollees are faring during the pandemic.
 
COVID-19 Disruption
  • 37 percent of respondents have experienced social isolation in the past week at least some of the time
  • 33 percent are disrupted by the inability to visit friends and family and 25 percent disruption to their normal routines
  • Not knowing when things will return to normal was the highest driver of older adult distress (60 percent), followed by concerns about personal health (49 percent), and for the health of friends and family (47 percent)
Fitness Routine
  • 89 percent of respondents rate their physical activity as the same or better than 3 months ago
  • Among the 11 percent whose where physical activity declined lack of motivation remains the primary driver
  • 64 percent of respondents plan to exercise in the next 3 months, 95 percent of frequent gym going respondents will do the same
  • 29 percent of gym going respondents are back in the gym, another 30 percent plan to be, and 21 percent of gym going respondents will not return
  • 97 percent of respondents who plan to return to the gym will do so within 3 months
  • Having a routine and access to equipment are the top drivers for returning to the gym
Digital/Virtual Fitness
  • The proportion of gym going respondents who participated in digital/virtual fitness is at 18 percent
  • Among digital/virtual fitness users, retention after gym return is at 43 percent, while 48 percent are unsure 
Nutrition
  • 13 percent of respondents report being worried food will run out before having money to buy more
  • 14 percent of respondents report eating habits which are worse since the pandemic, while 73 percent report their eating habits are about the same
  • Snacking, eating more than before and choosing unhealthy food options are the most common reason for respondents’ decline in eating habits
Underserved Populations
  • 39 percent of non-white respondents report being worried food will run out before having money to buy more
  • More older adult females experienced anxiety and stress compared to males over the last two weeks
Socializing During COVID-19
  • Currently, 56 percent of respondents are comfortable socializing with friends / family in public, a decline of nine points from the previous research wave (two weeks prior)
Personal Health
  • 83 percent of respondents report that their health status has not changed in the past year, while 10 percent report it had worsened
    • Stress and anxiety as well as the ongoing pandemic were the main reasons cited for the worsening of health
Assistance for Respondents
  • 30 percent of respondents report they have received assistance in the past year.
  • Home repairs / modifications as well as housekeeping / cleaning are the most common items respondents received help on
  • Most respondents (72 percent) rely on family or friends for help

Medicare to Cover Over-the-Counter COVID-19 Tests

When the Biden administration required health care insurers to cover the cost of at-home COVID-19 tests it unfortunately did not include Medicare, leaving this population of 60 million enrollees out. All that changed yesterday when CMS announced that Medicare beneficiaries will be able to obtain up to eight free at-home COVID-19 tests each month.
 
Starting this spring, Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in the “Part B” outpatient benefit will be able to receive up to eight no-cost over-the-counter, at-home COVID-19 tests through participating pharmacies and at other locations.  Additionally, Medicare Advantage (MA) plans may offer over-the-counter COVID-19 tests as a supplemental benefit—so MA plan beneficiaries should check to see if their plan includes such a benefit.
 
If looking for a test before spring, people with Medicare can access free tests through other channels created by the Biden Administration including:
  • Four free over-the-counter tests that will be home-delivered through covidtests.gov.
  • Access to COVID-19 tests at community-based testing sites.
  • Free lab-based PCR tests and antigen tests performed by a laboratory when the test is ordered by a physician, non-physician practitioner, pharmacist or other authorized health care professional. In addition to accessing a COVID-19 lab test ordered by a health care professional, people with Medicare are able to receive one lab-performed test without an order, also without cost sharing, during the public health emergency.
For more information, please see CMS’s Frequently Asked Questions,
https://www.cms.gov/files/document/covid-19-over-counter-otc-tests-medicare-frequently-asked-questions.pdf.

Contributors

Contributors

USAging Fact: Learn about your peers’ work—and how it can fit into your agency’s goals! The AIA Awards recognizes successful and innovative programs that USAging members have developed to serve older adults. Get inspiration from our 2021 winners.