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Consult your doctor on health information obtained from any other source.

Committing to the wrong Part D Plan for the next year could be a costly and tragic error. Are you sure you will have the best 2009 Part D Plan for your area, at the best price, and one that best meets your prescription needs? Medicare is making available a tool that will help you to know for sure. It will enable you to see the best plan, for the best price, that meets your unique prescription needs in your area. SeniorArk is proud to present links to this tool to help you find your way through the maze of Part D. As the editor of SeniorArk.com, I work with Part D information every day, and I'm not sure I will have the best 2009 Plan until I use Medicare's tool.  Use this tool now at Medicare-Plan-Finder.

Some Part D enrollment tips

This is important enough to place before #1. 

Why are seniors paying nearly twice the price for their prescriptions as veterans, even though the government runs both programs? Because Congress specifically prevented Medicare from negotiating lower drug prices for seniors. In a time of record budget deficits, that just doesn’t make sense.

Tell Congress to let Medicare get better drug prices for seniors.      

 "Happiness is nothing more than good health and a bad memory."  Albert Schweitzer

Alert: Despite Medicare coverage, seniors are not taking advantage of preventive services and important screenings that can help detect diseases early.
FAQ:   About 7.4% of Americans aged 75 and older lived in nursing homes in 2006, compared with 8.1% in 2000 and 10.2% in 1990, according to U.S. Census figures released last week. The downturn reflects the improved health of seniors and more choices of care for the elderly.   source: The Alliance for Retired Americans
1. Information on Preparing For the Cold Weather, from the house to the car, to illness, to storms. Links to an extremely useful series of articles from the CDC--Center for Disease Control and Prevention. This is a must read before winter.
2. You will want to read the news article written by  your SeniorARK editor on December 30, 2005 about the wide range of prices on generic drugs. You will save money if you pay for your drugs. (Bottom of this page)
3. Emergency Safety Tips from a Senior Group at the Seattle Red Cross.
3. My  92 year old Mother's Successful Cancer Battle - -Senior Ark Editor
4.Internal page to this site on Senior Safety. 45 Senior Safety tips offered by the Sarasota, FL Sheriff's Office.

Note: People who are searching for this article online are including the word "hoax". This was sent to us by a reader, and we are unable to determine that it is a hoax. If you have any information on this please let SeniorArk know at seniorark@aol.com.

In any case, the information is very valuable, and should be read carefully.

5.  Recognize a stroke:    During a BBQ a friend stumbled and took a little fall - she assured
everyone that she was fine and just tripped over a brick because of her new shoes. They got her cleaned up and got her a new plate of food -while she appeared a bit shaken up, Ingrid went about enjoying herself the rest of the evening. Ingrid's husband called later telling everyone that his wife had been taken to the hospital - (at 6:00pm, Ingrid passed
away.) She had suffered a stroke at the BBQ - Had they known how to identify the signs of a stroke perhaps Ingrid would be with us today.
     A neurologist says that if he can get to a stroke victim within 3 hours he can totally reverse the effects of a stroke...totally. He said the trick was getting a stroke recognized, diagnosed an getting to the patient within 3 hours which is tough.
    Sometimes symptoms of a stroke are difficult to identify. Unfortunately, the lack of awareness spells disaster. The stroke victim may suffer brain damage when people nearby fail to recognize the symptoms of a stroke.

Now doctors say a bystander can recognize a stroke by asking three simple

A. *Ask the individual to SMILE.

B. *Ask him or her to RAISE BOTH ARMS.

C. *Ask the person to SPEAK A SIMPLE SENTENCE (Coherently) (i.e. . . It is sunny out today)

If he or she has trouble with any of these tasks,  call 9-1-1 immediately  and describe the symptoms to the dispatcher.

After discovering that a group of non-medical volunteers could identify facial weakness, arm weakness and speech problems, researchers urged the general public to learn the three questions. They presented their conclusions at the American Stroke Association's annual meeting last February. Widespread use of this test could result in prompt diagnosis and treatment of the stroke and prevent brain damage.

Shared by Don T, , Louisville, KY

FOLLOW-UP: Here is a comment we found on a Google group, posted by someone who said he was a doctor who treats stroke cases: "The neurologist you mention surely said  that *some* patients with ischemic strokes (clots, emboli) can be helped with the clot busting
drugs we have at our disposal now. These drugs are given within three hours onset of symptoms (not arrival in the ER). Not everyone is a candidate for this treatment, nor will everyone be "reversed" totally. Hemorrhagic (bleed) strokes most certainly ARE NOT treated this same way. Aprox. 70% of strokes are ischemic, 30% hemorrhagic."


FOLLOW-UP 2: On March 1, 2008 we received a note from another reader, A.S.:


The procedure for identifying a stroke that is outlined in this email forward is valid. According to information available on the American Stroke Association's website, the three questions outlined in the email are a medically viable method for a layperson to ascertain if a person is presenting with stroke symptoms.

The procedure was originally outlined in a report to the American Stroke Association's 28th International Stroke Conference. The report states that a bystander may be able to spot someone having a stroke by giving the person a simple, quick test to see if they can smile, raise both arms and keep them up, and speak a simple sentence coherently...

Certainly, the core information in the email is worth heeding. Knowing how to conduct this simple test could indeed save a person's life. The aforementioned report explains that if bystanders can relay results of this test to an emergency dispatcher, it could speed treatment to stroke patients. Time is crucial in treating stroke.

America's National Stroke Association lists the following as common symptoms of stroke:
  • Sudden numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause
Given this list of symptoms, it is easy to see how the simple three-question test could help identify a stroke.

However, there is an important point that needs to be considered. While the central information in the email is true, the absence of these symptoms does not necessarily indicate that a person is NOT having a stroke. It could be extremely dangerous to reach the conclusion that a person did not require medical attention just because he or she could successfully carry out the three steps outlined in the test.

7. Before leaving your area, and certainly before leaving the country,it is very important that you check with your health insurance carrier on the proper procedures to follow in the event of an accident or illness. Even if you are on Medicare, you may have a new Part D prescription supplier. Are you able to refill your meds while on your vacation, or do you need to deal with them in some way before leaving?

8. Take your medical information with you When you travel. Print out a personal medical information form from this SeniorARK site so you can easily have all of your medical information close at hand. I have one in my wallet and car glove compartment at all times. I also take one to every doctors appointment. Once it is in your computer, it is easy to print out at any time.

9. It seems that pharmacists can only refill your prescriptions within a couple days before they are due. If you will be away for a while, talk with that pharmacist about an early refill in advance of the trip. Or a partial refill to get you by until you return.

10. Physical activity is good for people at any age. Among older adults, falls are a common cause of injury and disability. Physical activity makes your bones and muscles stronger. When your muscles are strong, you're less likely to fall. If you do fall, strong bones are less likely to break. Many chronic (ongoing) health problems are improved by even moderate amounts of physical activity. For people who have these conditions, not exercising is a bigger risk than exercise-related injury.

11. Regular physical activity is good for your brain.  Recent studies have shown that people who do simple exercises (for example, walking briskly) on a regular basis are better able to make decisions than people who aren't physically active.

12. Talk with your doctor about your plans before you get started on an exercise program. Your muscles will very likely be sore when you first increase your physical activity, but don't consider that a reason to stop. Mild soreness will go away in a few days as you become more used to the physical activity.

13, When your muscles are strong, activities like getting out of a chair or holding a door open are much easier. If you decide to lift weights, start with a 1-pound or 5-pound weight. If you don't have weights, you can use a can of soup, a book or a full water bottle. Keep your weights in the same room as your television and do a few exercises while you watch.

14. Fiber can improve your health in 3 ways:

  1. It helps your colon work better;

  2. It reduces the risk of heart disease and cancer; and
  3. It is associated with lower cholesterol levels

15. Foods rich in fiber
  • Unprocessed wheat bran
  • Unrefined breakfast cereals
  • Whole wheat and rye flours
  • Grainy breads, such as whole wheat, rye or pumpernickel
  • Fresh fruits, such as apples and berries
  • Dried fruits, such as prunes, apricots and figs
  • Vegetables, such as broccoli and carrots
  • Legumes, such as chickpeas, baked beans and lima beans
16. Facts to remember about drug-food interactions  ( from Family Doctor.org)
  • Read the prescription label on the container. If you don't understand something, ask your doctor or pharmacist about it.
  • Read all directions, warnings and interaction precautions printed on medicine labels and packages. Even over-the-counter medicines can cause problems.
  • Take medicine with a full glass of water, unless your doctor tells you differently.
  • Don't stir medicine into your food or take capsules apart (unless your doctor tells you to) because this may change the way the drug works.
  • Don't take vitamin pills at the same time you take medicine because vitamins and minerals can cause problems if taken with some drugs.
  • Don't mix medicine into hot drinks because the heat may keep the drug from working.
  • Never take medicine with alcoholic drinks.
17. Make sure that you have good lighting in your home. This will help you avoid tripping over objects that are not easy to see. Put night lights in your bedroom, hallways, and bathrooms
18. To avoid falls, rugs should be firmly fastened to the floor or have nonskid backing. Loose ends should be tacked down

19. In a study conducted at Harvard University, it was found that nursing home residents who were given a plant to take care of were not only more social, alert, and happier but lived longer than a control group. It appears that having a sense of purpose in life, even if it is as minor as caring for a plant, has many positive benefits

20. To avoid falls on stairways, paint the top and bottom steps with a color that is different from the rest of the steps. This way it will be more easily seen. Also make sure the stairway is well lit and the handrail is secure.

21. A study at Scripps College showed that men and women between the ages of 55 and 88, who exercised regularly, were able to remember things more readily than their non-exercising counterparts. In addition, their reasoning and problem-solving skills were enhanced.

22. The medicine cabinet can be one of the worst places for medicine. They can have a shortened shelf-life when exposed to the heat and humidity present in bathrooms. A better storage area would be on a kitchen or linen closet shelf that is out of children's reach.

23. Laughter can improve blood circulation, stimulate digestion, lower blood pressure, and cause the brain to emit hormones that alleviate pain. Don't be shocked if one day your doctor says, "Take two aspirin, and by the way, did you hear the one about..."

24. Go to Partnership for Prescription Assistance and see if you qualify for help.

25. 1. Remember to replace the old batteries in your home's smoke alarms regularly. While you're at it, dust each alarm and test it to make sure it is properly functioning. Make sure you have installed enough smoke alarms for the size of your home--at least one per floor, especially near bedrooms. It has been suggested that this be done 2 times a year, each time you set your clocks ahead or back.

26. My tip for people suffering auto immune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, lupus and so on is to change the way you eat.
 Remove gluten, sugar, additives and preservatives from your diet. I am not cured but have less muscle spasm , much more energy and no GI symptoms that often go with some of these diseases. Eat organic if you can afford it, if not wash fruit and vegs in one part white vinegar and 9 parts cold water. Rinse well before chopping and using.  Cut your red meat ration to once or twice a week and eat a fish like sea salmon or fresh tuna twice a week.              Carolyn     Auckland New Zealand
27.Talk to your pharmacist!  If your doctor gives you a drug that you are not familiar with, talk to your pharmacist about it. S/he can give you the best and most up-to-date information about effects, side effects, etc. that is available. Many people don't know this, but pharmacists are required (at least in my state) to undergo a constant "re-education" program, in order to update their knowledge regularly; doctors are not required to do this. And many doctors get their info about a certain drug FROM THE DRUG REPS. Not the most reliable source, a salesman, huh?

 Also, make sure that your pharmacy has a computer system that can track your medications; this can save you from possibly fatal interactions between drugs. Some people buy their prescriptions all over the place, trying to save money; but what price can you put on life? Try to keep your Rx's with one pharmacy so that they can tell you about possible interactions. And ASK FOR GENERICS if they are available; they can save you tons of money. There is NO DIFFERENCE between a generic and a brand; the FDA requires that they be the same chemically. The only possible difference might be in the delivery system of the drug (i.e., time-release vs. instant-release). And, if your doctor prescribes you a new drug that has no generic available, ask your pharmacist if there is a generic available that works in the same way. S/he can call your doctor and request a revision of your prescription to something safer, cheaper, and/or more effective. Once again, most doctors get their med info FROM DRUG SALESMEN, so your best bet is to talk to the pharmacist!        Rivahcat,   Virginia

28. Invest in a carbon-monoxide detector. It's a bit more expensive than a smoke detector, but it can save your life.

My old high-school boyfriend lost his grandmother for lack of a carbon-monoxide detector. A pillow on her sofa caught on fire (she was a smoker) and she tried to put it out by placing the pillow under the faucet. It put out the flames, but it continued to smolder... and she died from the fumes. A CO2 detector could have saved her.  Rivahcat,  Virginia

29. Don't run, WALK!
 Studies have shown that, for all ages, walking is far better than running or jogging. Those activities are hard on the joints, whereas walking is not. Besides, running is an activity meant to save us from danger! Unless you are in fear for your life, WALK.

 Keep in mind that ANY activity is better than none... but we don't have to kill ourselves! Just get out there and stroll. On a regular basis, any physical activity will contribute to your well-being. My parents are 89 and 79 respectively; they both garden, and it helps to keep them healthy. My dad runs a flea-market booth, and it "keeps (him) out of the rocking chair", as he's so fond of saying. My dad does vegetable gardening where my mom does flowers, but they enjoy it and it gets them out in the sun (not so dangerous as some would have us believe!) and off their rears!

30. Ever wonder where the memory went? Here is a site with great information for improving the memory: Tips and Techniques to Improve Your Memory
31. The latest information on Alzheimer's disease: Alzheimer's: Prevention, Treatment, and Slowing Down
32. 32 Senior Safety Tips (internal page)

33. Especially during the heat, one should have 64 ounces of water a day. It is essential for all of us, particularly the elderly, to have water to move nutrients and medication through the body. Since more than half of the body is water, joints, organs and body temperature rely on an adequate daily intake. We all need to remind ourselves to drink more water as the temperature rises. Many seniors consider iced tea an adequate substitute, but they should be reminded that if it is caffeinated, it will act as a diuretic and cause fluid loss.

34. A valuable all-around health guide for Seniors and their Caregivers:   www.helpguide.org

35. Many people believe that a major hurricane cannot affect them or that there is nothing they can do to protect themselves. But, it could happen to you, and there are simple, low-cost steps families and businesses can take to get ready. Make sure you and your family are prepared.››

36. Make sure to include your pets in your disaster planning. Find out how to keep your pets safe in an emergency.››

37.  If your physician prescribes new medications for you, always ask if he has any samples to give you. It's not wise to pay for new medications without knowing you can 'take' them and not have severe side effects. Pharmaceutical companies supply free samples to doctors just for these purposes.

38. Check out eleven myths that surround Cardiovascular Disease

39. Strength Training
A recent study a the University of Florida College of Medicine found that older adults who completed strength-training exercises three times a week improved not only their strength but also their cardiovascular fitness and bone density. Per lead researcher, Kevin Vincent, "This study proves you're never too old to start exercising and get benefits that will help you live better. It also shows that it's safe for seniors to strength-train. For exercises geared toward mature adults, visit "Exercise: A Guide from the National Institute on Aging." at http://www.nia.nih.gov/HealthInformation/Publications/ExerciseGuide/

 40. Women and Heart Attack Risk
According to an article in Modern Maturity magazine, "…one third of women at risk for a heart attack don't know that female heart attack symptoms can be different from male symptoms (such as chest pain and shortness of breath). Common female symptoms: nausea, dizziness, indigestion, gas-like pain, fatigue, pain between shoulder blades, and-we're not kidding-a sense of impending doom."

41. Is it the flu, or a common cold?
42. People look at food labels for different reasons. But whatever the reason, many consumers would like to know how to use this information more effectively and easily. How to Understand and Use the Nutrition Facts Label is a great explanation done by the Food and Drug Administration.
43. 13 Habits to Good Health       Reprinted internal Article
44. Top 11 Healthiest Foods          (each link leaves SeniorARK. Click "back" arrow to return)
45. (Article) Could spiritual healing actually work?
Daily Mail - UK - UK
... offer no cure. Then in January 2004, quite by chance, Ailsa read an article about the spiritual healer David Cunningham. 'I'd tried ...
46. Staying safely hydrated  (Read Complete Article)

It's generally not a good idea to use thirst alone as a guide for when to drink. By the time one becomes thirsty, it is possible to already be slightly dehydrated. Further, be aware that as you get older your body is less able to sense dehydration and send your brain signals of thirst. Excessive thirst and increased urination can be signs of a more serious medical condition. Talk to your doctor if you experience either.

To ward off dehydration and make sure your body has the fluids it needs, make water your beverage of choice. Nearly every healthy adult can consider the following:

  • Drink a glass of water with each meal and between each meal.
  • Hydrate before, during and after exercise.
  • Substitute sparkling water for alcoholic drinks at social gatherings.

If you drink water from a bottle, thoroughly clean or replace the bottle often. Refill only bottles that are designed for reuse.

Though uncommon, it is possible to drink too much water. When your kidneys are unable to excrete the excess water, the electrolyte (mineral) content of the blood is diluted, resulting in a condition called hyponatremia (low sodium levels in the blood). Endurance athletes — such as marathon runners — who drink large amounts of water are at higher risk of hyponatremia. In general, though, drinking too much water is rare in healthy adults who consume an average American diet.

If you're concerned about your fluid intake, check with your doctor or a registered dietitian. He or she can help you determine the amount of water that's best for you.

47. A great 9-page explanation of the new  Medicare drug benefit.     Click here.
48. All about home health care. National Association of Home Care
49.  The food package may say "no trans fat", but read it carefully. Trans fats are being looked at very carefully for their part in clogging the arteries. They may be present in foods you would never suspect. Even in foods that say they have none. What are the foods that usually contain trans fat, and how can they be avoided? See this valuable list.
50. Summary of WebMD article, 7 Pains You Cannot Ignore, with a link to the original article.
51. Summary of WebMD article, 7 Silent Medical Conditions, with a link to original interactive article.

52. This is an out-and-out product endorsement by the editor of SeniorARK.  Gillette pays nothing to SeniorArk for the endorsement, and does not know that it is being posted. This summer I received in the mail a free Gillette Fusion razor, blade, and the fusion gel that foams on contact with wet skin. I presume it was a Gillette promotion to our zip code. When I first saw this razor, with 5 blades, I said, "You've got to be kidding! What's next, 10 blades?" But now I have used the razor for over three months. The blade{s) have not been changed, and still work fine. I have nicked my face almost every time I shaved FOR YEARS. During these three months, however, I have not had a cut. Not one! Not bad for Senior skin. And at times I've shaved a little roughly to try causing a cut. None! And for a guy on Cumadin, that's important. There are five blades on the main surface, placed closer together than typical shaving systems. There is a single blade on the back for close trimming. The blade release is a very easy push-button, and the new blade snaps in easily. No risk of getting cut changing blades.

I have checked prices, and they are not cheap. The razor with one blade seems to cost around $9. Eight cartridge refills cost $25. Very high compared to the Trac-2 system I have used for a long time. I watch my pennies, and I am buying it. If you want a close, nick-free shave, and a blade that outlasts others, consider it. There is even one with a AAA battery inside. I read that it causes a subtle vibration for an even closer shave. I may try that one, but hardly see the need for it. I have not used it without the foaming gel, so cannot say how it would do with normal foam. For information go to: http://www.gillettefusion.com/us/lowband.asp         SeniorArk editor

53. We came across a page called: TOP 12 SEARCHES (on WebMD), and thought our readers might like to read more on some of the 12 topics. Osteoporosis | Shingles | Common Cold | Flu | Pregnancy | Back Pain | Hypertension | Anxiety | Insomnia | Alzheimer's Disease | Green Tea | Arthritis
54. Carbon Monoxide is a silent killer of many unsuspecting Seniors. Read our comprehensive article on the subject:
55. Keep a pet it gives you company plus  someone to care for and talk to. submitted by Sharonjoyce.  SeniorARK adds a link to the following article:

Get a Pet - - Be Healthier

55. Practical article on Putting Down the Stress. It is a choice.

56. Resveratrol a chemical found in dark grape skins, as well as certain other foods, is being shown to have amazing powers for prevention and cure. SeniorARK presents several articles on the subject:

Grape Compound Aids Cancer Chemotherapy, Study Says, Resveratrol and Stroke Prevention, Advanced-Cancer Healing. Was it Resveratrol? Resveratrol and Studies in Mice,   Resveratrol -- Grape Juice -- Wine

57.  State-by-State Analysis of Medicare Part D Finds Low-Income Nursing Home Residents Have a Poor Chance of Being Enrolled in the Best Available Drug Plans.   ...most low-income nursing home residents have a poor chance of being enrolled in the Medicare Part D plan that best covers their medications -- and most could immediately switch to a better plan at no cost if they were allowed to receive help from their caregivers.

58. New data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services show the use of generic drugs is on the rise, and consumers and payers are reaping the benefits. The CMS reports that generic prescriptions accounted for nearly 60 percent of the drugs dispensed to Medicare beneficiaries through the third quarter of 2006 and nearly 56 percent of all prescriptions dispensed in the United States.

59. Now THIS is valuable research. A quick cup of coffee may help to give you a quick memory boost, suggest recent study results. Researchers at the University of Arizona found that seniors who drank a 12-ounce mug of regular coffee just before taking a memory test performed significantly better than those who drank decaffeinated coffee. Furthermore, caffeine drinkers did not show any decline in performance on the tests throughout the day, whereas the performance of those given decaf for the experiment declined significantly when the test was performed once again in the afternoon. The researchers who carried out the study say that the results support those of other studies which suggest that caffeine can boost the memory and prevent it from flagging as the day progresses.

60. It’s estimated 85 percent of people over 65 have one or more chronic health conditions, and of those, 25 percent have four or more conditions. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that chronic illness accounts for 75 percent of the total national health-care expenditures. By 2025, the number of Medicare beneficiaries will reach 69 million people, or 20 percent of the U.S. population.

61. The sun can be very damaging to our eyes. Read Proper Sunglasses Can Save Your Sight

62. Experts say everyone can benefit from brain-stimulating activities such as puzzles, crafts or sports but don't expect too much. Though these activities are beneficial, they don't apply to every aspect of daily living. Doing crossword puzzles won't necessarily help you balance your checkbook. There's also limited evidence the brain can absolutely prevent, or reverse, the ravages of degenerative brain diseases such as Alzheimer's.

Research has shown for years that learning new things and practicing skills creates new connections in our brains. As we lose brain matter to age, injury or disease, the connections we strengthened tend to hold on longer and could make the effects of brain disease less pronounced.

63. A law that went into effect Sunday requires hospitals to better ensure that Medicare beneficiaries know their rights before being discharged, and outlines how to object when a patient or family member feels release is medically premature. more

64. "One of my friends had a painful case of shingles last year, and I am thinking about getting the recently approved vaccine. I’m 65 years old and in good health. Is the shingles vaccine safe for older people? Do I really need this shot?" An answer from: University of Alabama School of Medicine

65. Seniors are particularly at risk of injury or death from fires. And the leading cause of fire related injuries for older Americans is fire in the kitchen. Here are two valuable discussions on how to protect Seniors from fire, and particularly fires in the kitchen.

66. There is an online site where you can register your medications, conditions, and more. The site assesses interactions, problem medications, medications to watch carefully, and alerts you when necessary. iGuard is a fast  and easy way to get personalized safety alerts and updates about your medicines. And, by learning about drug experiences from their users, iGuard can help the FDA and other researchers identify problems faster than ever. Have a look at: www.iguard.org.

67. These days they say 60 is the new 40, but some senior citizens are not sure their teeth have heard this news. The Center for Disease Control & Prevention says 26% of senior citizens over 65 have lost all of their teeth. The salvation, for years, was dentures. Today, however, many senior citizens are turning to dental implants

Rather than resting on the gum line like removable dentures, or using adjacent teeth as anchors like fixed bridges, dental implants are long-term replacements that are surgically placed in the jawbone. More from the American Dental Association

67. www.DisabilityInfo.gov is the federal government's one-stop Web site for people with disabilities, their families, employers, veterans and service members, workforce professionals and many others.
68. The blisters that arise with shingles contain the Herpes simplex virus in their fluid. So a person who has never had the chicken pox (or the vaccine for it) and comes in direct contact with the fluid can develop chicken pox.
69. If you miss the sunlight, try the new high definition natural lighting instant on by Ottlite. i installed 8, 60 watt bulbs  in my bathroom. just wonderful. from winter to Summer with the flick of the switch.    Jerry
70. Site Offers More Alerts Than FDA    Washington Post - Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Let's say you want to know whether new problems have been found with any medications you or your family are taking. So you check the Food and Drug Administration's Web site (http://www.fda.gov), and you find five prescription drug alerts in December 2008. Then you go to the "drug alerts" tab at http://www.consumermedsafety.org, a new site from the not-for-profit Institute for Safe Medication Practices in Horsham, Pa. -- and you find 13 for the same period.

Not all the ISMP consumer warnings are crucial: One included news that a babysitter had given a child pet medicine. But the site is worth a check about once a month to see virtually all of the FDA's critical alerts (such as a Dec. 11 warning about possible risks of kidney damage from drugs used for colonoscopy preparation) as well as news reports that might not make it to the FDA site. A Dec. 26 ISMP alert, for example, reported on seven people who had swallowed Benadryl's stop-itching gel, a potentially fatal event. This Benadryl product is meant only for use on skin. You can sign up on the ISMP site to receive warnings related to specific prescription drug products. But check with your physician or pharmacist before taking any action on a drug alert, says Edward Langston, a member of the American Medical Association's board of trustees, who is both a physician and a pharmacist.

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Internet Hoax

Oh, and by the way, there is a rumor being circulated around the web that a special government employee has stated that a study reveals lowest drug prices are at Costco. Not so! It was a hoax. Your SeniorArk Editor located that government employee, and she says the email is a hoax. It has created such a stir that she has had to make changes in her job, and changed her email address. In fact, she seemed dismayed that I found her. 


SeniorArk Editor


HHS launches $15B senior health effort

WASHINGTON, July 5 (UPI) -- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Wednesday the launch of a $15 billion bid to improve quality of life for seniors.

Seeking to enlist older people in determining their own health destinies through good habits, HHS said it would collaborate with The Atlantic Philanthropies to "improve the health and quality of life for older Americans at the community level."

The three-year project will span as many as 12 states and will involve public/private collaborations that will fund community-based programs at senior centers, nutrition programs, senior housing projects and faith-based organizations, the agency said.

At least 30 local communities will have programs in place within a year, HHS noted.

"This collaboration, led by the Administration on Aging (AoA) and involving several HHS agencies, states, and various public and private organizations at the community level, will empower older people to take more control of their own health through life style and behavioral changes that have proven effective in reducing the risk of disease and disability among the elderly," said HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt in a statement released Wednesday.

"Simply put, this collaboration will put the results of our research investments into the hands of older people so they can use it to improve the quality of their lives."

Chronic conditions including arthritis, diabetes and heart disease limit the activities of an estimated 12 million older persons living in U.S. communities, HHS said, and together account for seven out of 10 deaths and more than three-quarters of U.S. health expenditures.


Seniors, Nothing is impossible, if we show each other how! Do you have all of your vital information in ONE place?

Click for free emergency Medical Organizer

Generic Drug Alert     SeniorARK Editor     


According to a report broadcast recently on CNN, some popular and critical generic drugs vary enormously in price from drugstore to drugstore. We think we are saving by buying generic, but according to the CNN report, they found a generic drug in one location at TEN times the price at another. The best deals were found at pharmacies at Sam's club and Costco on several drugs. The broadcast was particularly harsh on CVS and Walgreens pharmacies. The broadcast was not clear whether these savings were across the board on generics, or on several that they sampled.

Bottom line for us: If we are able to use generic drugs as a means of saving money, we need to compare the prices on each of our drugs at several pharmacies. This would apply to non-generics as well. Perhaps one drug is higher at one store, but another might be lower. We may need more than one drug store.  Access the pharmacies online and compare, or walk in with a list and ask the pharmacist for prices. If the pharmacist has no time to review these prices with you, you need a new pharmacist. This may take some time, but you could save hundreds of dollars EVERY MONTH. Now that's worth a couple hours of our time!!.


A while back when my wife and I had $900/mo drug bills, and no health insurance,  we took a list of everything to the pharmacist at Eckerd Drugs and asked her to review it and give us the prices for everything. She could not be of help at that time, but promised to work on it during spare moments.  The next day we got a call with all kinds of helpful suggestions. Such things as, "You are buying 90 tablets of these a month in the 10 mg size. For half the price you can get 30 tablets in the 30mg size." The exact same dosage at the exact same pharmacy for half the price. And she said much more.  Drugs are dispensed in 30 day supplies because that's how insurance companies pay for them. But if YOU are paying for them, ask your doctor to prescribe 3 or 6 months supply at once. One of my medications cost virtually the same for 90 days supply as it did for a 30 days supply. I mean $65 for 90 days compared to $56 for 30 days. That's $65 instead of $168 (3 x 56) over a 90 day period.  She even found one drug that was MUCH cheaper if I bought twice as many 50mg tablets, and stopped the 100 mg tablets. Figure that out !! This is not meant to be an endorsement of Eckerd Drug. They may be just as expensive as other mainline pharmacies. But it IS and endorsement for that pharmacist who took the time to save an uninsured couple hundreds of dollars a month. Find someone like that. 


Clearly, in retirement, when our income is generally reduced, and drug prices are soaring, we need to take control of how and where we buy. The CNN broadcast suggested that if we are in love with our pharmacy, but not their prices, ask them to match another's lower price. That should get their attention.

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