Medical expenses can be devastating to patients, even those with quality medical insurance. In fact, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, individuals in the US paid out over $8,400 last year to cover medical costs. Premiums, deductibles, medical visit co-pays, medicines and uncovered costs can nickel and dime even the most affluent of medical consumers to death. Seniors, faced with bodies much more fragile than in their youth, often forget to prepare for additional costs associated with growing older, and are harder hit financially due to reduced earning power and dwindling savings accounts. Here are five ways that seniors can prepare for additional medical costs.

  1. A Good Defense is the Best Offense

While this usually applies to football, it can also apply to seniors preparing for additional health care costs. Living a healthy lifestyle is an investment that can go a long way to reducing the associated medical costs with growing older. Staying active in mind and body, engaging in communication with friends, neighbors and relatives, and learning new things helps keep one’s body and mind strong and less likely to succumb to a costly illness.

  1. Smart Savings

Having a healthy savings account is proper fiscal responsibility, but as one gets older, having a health savings account is a great way to prepare for additional medical costs for seniors. These accounts should be long-term savings accounts, like bonds and less aggressive mutual funds, and unlike a conventional savings account, should only be used to cover medical costs. The sooner one starts a longer term health savings account the more money is available to cover these eventual expenses.

  1. Check Into Options

Seniors should look into home healthcare as an alternative to retirement homes or communities. It is often less expensive to have someone come into a senior’s home than it is to pay for around the clock care. This can also have a positive effect on a senior’s mood and self-confidence as they can continue to live independently under an appropriate level of care from someone who is familiar with the senior’s medical issues.

  1. Ask An Accountant

Some health care expenses are tax deductible, which can offset the extra medical costs involved as one grows older. The tax code for 2011 taxes allows for medical and dental expenses can be deductions if their total sum exceeds 7.5% of the tax filer’s adjusted gross income. Keep those receipts and ask for assistance when filing taxes, especially when the filer is on a fixed income.

  1. Shop Around

Both insurance coverage and doctors should be shopped around, and before embarking on an expensive medical regimen, get a second opinion. Smart shoppers can save hundreds and thousands of dollars, especially when it comes to the accelerated medical regimen most seniors have to endure.
Saving money and being prepared for the additional medical costs associated with growing older does not have to be a challenge. Be a smart consumer, realize that the patient is an active part of the cure, and asking questions can mitigate increased medical costs not only for seniors, but for everyone.