Monday, September 10, 2012

Should You Buy Your Meds Online?

The last time I needed a prescription medication, my doctor typed it into his computer and I just went to my local pharmacy to pick it up. One co-pay later and I was on my way to recovery. Since my COBRA benefits expired last month, along with my prescription benefits, I'm now on my own for medications.

Before I knew about FamilyWize, I wondered if I could buy a ninety day supply via mail order from an on line pharmacy like I did with my former insurance plan.  That was very economical and I wondered if I could do the same online without insurance. I searched for a pharmacy online and came up with a huge list. Which one is the best online pharmacy? Are there risks involved? How can I protect myself?

What I learned made me hesitant, it seems like the risks might not outweigh any benefits.

Risks of Ordering Online
  • A pharmacy online might not be licensed in the U.S. so it might not adhere to U.S. safety standards.
  • Counterfeit drugs might be dispensed.
  • The site might not be a real pharmacy and could steal your identity/credit card information.
  • Medications might not be received or be correct and the pharmacy offers no resolution to the problem.
Other Red Flags
  • An e pharmacy that doesn't insist on having the prescription mailed or faxed to them isn’t legitimate. Federal law requires pharmacists to have a written prescription that contains the doctor's signature and other information that identifies the doctor as one that is licensed to write prescriptions.
  •  An international pharmacy might provide medication that is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
  •  Would you want to order ANYTHING, especially medicine from a pharmacy that does not list a street address or has only foreign contact information?
Here’s a link with some useful information you can use to protect yourself.

One thing that I discovered was that part of the reason buying by mail or online seemed so economical was because I was ordering a three month supply.  I discovered that there’s a real savings because the pharmacy is only charging one dispensing fee for the three month supply. If you fill them as 3 separate prescriptions, you’ll pay a fee for each filling.

pharmacy
Local pharmacies offer counseling from a pharmacist.
If your doctor, or vet for pet medications, will write a 90 day prescription and you use a FamilyWize card, you may find you save even more than ordering from an online pharmacy. Plus if you shop at your local pharmacy, you'll save postage too. So if you're looking for a discount, don't discount your local pharmacy. 

Here’s  something I learned that may even be more valuable than saving money on your prescription. When ordering online, we don't get face time with a pharmacist who can be familiar with our overall health. I've been getting prescriptions for both my mother and myself and it's nice to be able to connect with the same pharmacist each time. I was looking for an over the counter allergy medication recently, and our pharmacist suggested checking with my doctor first because what I had chosen could have an interaction with one of my prescribed medications.  I realized I might miss out on that extra care if I purchase prescriptions from one store and over the counter medications from another store.

Try your FamilyWize discount drug card on a 90 day supply of your prescriptions and see how much you can save.

Caroline Carr
Contributing Writer

Friday, September 7, 2012

Coupon Crazy

When we were kids, my sister and I lived to tag along with my mom to the grocery store.  But we didn't enjoy sneaking treats into the cart or getting a free piece of cheese from the deli like normal kids.  Instead, we loved to swindle the free coupons that teased us from the automatic coupon dispensers.  We would wreak havoc on every aisle, not caring if the coupons were for cereal or hemorrhoid cream!  All of the them were the cat's pajamas.
coupon free coupons
All of these coupons are from one Sunday paper!

Flash forward many years later and I'm still hunting for coupons.  Only now I actually use them as one of the simple ways to save money I practice these days.

According to ilovecouponmonth.com, consumers received $4.6 billion in coupon savings last year. That's a lot of savings and lots of coupons printed! I joined the bandwagon last year after I saw this crazy show where people saved hundreds of dollars by using grocery store coupons.

When I started working full time I began buying my own groceries for lunches. I quickly learned that groceries weren't cheap and I realized why my mom gave me dirty looks when she had to throw food out!  I wanted to save money any way possible, so with the help of Happy Money Saver and  Coupon Sherpa, I started with my groceries. 

How Coupons Work

First a little history.  Coca Cola gave out coupons way back in the late 1800's.  John Pemberton, the inventor of the famous soft drink gave out handwritten slips of paper for a free glass. It was a way to market his drink but there wasn't a great turnaround.  After Pemberton's death a very smart business man bought Coca Cola and gave coupons another whirl.  He mailed coupons for a free Coke across the country, handed them out, and even included them in magazines.  His hard work paid off because 8.5 million coupons were claimed between 1894-1913!

You probably wouldn't think this, but coupons are the same as cash.  According to an article How Do Store Coupons Work? on HowStuffWorks.com,
"Once the cashier accepts the coupon, the store has a problem. It now has a small scrap of paper that is worth cash, but in order to get the cash the store has to mail the coupon to the manufacturer. On the back of most coupons in fine print, the manufacturer lists the mailing address and states that it will also reimburse the store some amount of money for processing -- typically 8 cents per coupon.  A coupon is, essentially, free money, and free money is hard to stop. "
"At the end of the day the coupons in each cash drawer are added up as if they were cash.  Then all of the manufacturers' coupons are sent in plastic bags or pouches to the store's corporate headquarters."
The process after that is long and involved but you get the picture.  Coupons are a win-win because companies get their products in the hands of consumers and the stores benefit financially.


clip coupons
My friend Melissa and I love clipping
 coupons!
Where to get Free Coupons
  • Your Newspaper- I don't know about you, but where I live coupons come wrapped up in the Sunday newspaper like a little gift.  There is always a wide variety of coupons from toothpaste to shampoo.
  • Redplum sticks a coupon circular in my Sunday paper to clip coupons from and you can also check their online site to find free coupons to print out.  There are different categories such as grocery, restaurant, and drug store.
  • RetailMeNot.  Use promo codes for shopping online for your favorite stores.  Promo codes are codes you put in before you check out that allow you to receive a discount.  There are always deals like free shipping on many of my favorite online stores that help me save a couple bucks.
  • Smart Phone- For those who are smart phone savvy, there are apps that download coupons right to your phone.  Pretty easy, huh? It gets better. The coupon on your phone can even be scanned by a cashier!  If you can't decide, here is a list of the top five free iPhone coupon apps and the three best Android coupon apps.
Coupon Clipping Tips 
    coupon clipping free coupon
    Organize your coupons!
  • Purchase a small accordion folder (one with lots of slots) so you can organize your coupons.  Organize the coupons into categories such as frozen food, dairy and  snacks.  No more shuffling through all of the coupons when you're ready to check out. 
  • If you cut out coupons and decide not to use them, donate them to a church or community center for someone in need. I'm sure whoever uses them will be very grateful! 
If you're looking for easy ways to save money, start clipping coupons.  Remember, if you are trying to save on prescription medications, the FamilyWize discount prescription card is like a reusable coupon. You don't have to clip it each week and you can even download it to your phone! Download it for free today. It's valid at over 60,000 pharmacies nationwide and has helped people save every day. Be sure to share these money saving tips with your friends and share any tips YOU have with US! 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Hey Honey


Fresh Is Best

health benefits of honey
Bees the makers of honey
Did you know that honey is freshest in the summer and fall when it is harvested? You will get the most health benefits from honey if you get it fresh and raw. Another option is pasteurized honey. However, many health benefits of honey are lost when it is pasteurized. I highly recommend buying local raw honey. Why local honey? The bees in your area are harvesting pollen from the plants in your area. Nature, in its beautiful wisdom, provides the foods and plants your body most needs for “life support” for you in that space and time. So when you can; eat fresh, local, and raw!


Fill Yourself Up With Fabulous Fuel

Honey benefits have been known and used throughout the ages. However, we have stopped using honey for nutrition, and replaced it with processed sugar for low cost and ease. But, food is fuel to our bodies, and the nutrients and vitamins we get from fresh food can greatly increase our good health. That is why I am such an avid supporter of spreading the word to eat nutrient dense foods. Many health experts feel that eating fresh and raw ingredients has a positive effect on our overall health.

Let’s live life to the fullest, by enjoying the positive benefits of eating delicious, colorful, nutrient rich foods. The benefit of honey is just one way we can do this.

Honey health benefits

Let’s take a closer look at some of the benefits honey has to offer to YOU:
  • Allergy remedy: Many people report that using a spoonful of honey in tea, or right out of the jar has relieved their allergy symptoms. There may also be benefits from adding bee pollen supplements to the honey.  Some people report that they are able to stop using over the counter medicines after finding that honey has helped relieve their symptoms. How Stuff Works.com explains in detail how honey might help as an allergy remedy. 
  • An Energized Workout:  Honey can boost the quality of your workout! The natural sugars in honey may help in preventing fatigue while you exercise. Try a “spoonful of honey” before your next work out and see if it boosts your energy!
  • Boost your Immune System:  Honey has anti-bacterial properties.  Since bacteria does not grow on honey, it might help your body kill off bacteria and help boost your immune system. I once asked a lively and healthy 92 year old woman, named Doris, what she felt was one of her most effective health regimens. She told me that every morning she started her day with honey and lemon in a cup of warm water. A doctor had told her in her forties that it would help to boost her immune system, and she used it every day after that. 
  • A Natural Home Remedy:  I come from Amish country and I am grateful for the influence that culture has brought into my life. One of my favorite books is, “Home Remedies from Amish Country.” One remedy from this little gem of a book is said to be good for arthritis pain. But always check with your doctor before stopping or changing any medications. There are different types of arthritis and it's important to know which type you are dealing with before using any remedy, natural or otherwise.
    • Mix equal parts honey and apple cider vinegar.
    • Take two dessert spoons (about one tablespoon) of this mixture each morning and evening.
Health benefits from honey are numerous, whether you use it inside or out. Livestrong.com is just one internet resource that talks about the many benefits from raw honey. If you are unsure of the benefits honey could have for your condition, check with your skilled health care provider first. Always discuss changes in treatment with your doctor before stopping any prescribed treatment or medication. Also, honey should never be given to infants under the age of 12 months. It may contain botulism spores that can lead to botulism poisoning. Infants under 12 months should avoid all foods containing honey, whether it is raw or processed.

Let me share with you a few nutrition facts so you can feel even better about enjoying this delicious, golden syrup.

Honey Nutrition Facts

How many calories are in honey? Well there are about 64 calories in a tablespoon of honey.

I was taught that to live a long healthy life eat mineral rich foods. You can't go wrong with honey.
  • Potassium-heart, kidney, muscle and digestive functioning.
  •  Calcium-bone health, dental care and prevention of colon cancer.
  • Phosphorus-hormone balance, bone and protein formation and digestion.
  • Sodium-helps balance fluid in the body, especially during workouts.
  • Magnesium-aids over 300 biochemical reactions in the body.
  • Iron-carries life giving oxygen to human blood cells.
  • Copper-if there is an anti-aging nutrient, this one would be at the top of the list!
  •  Manganese-helps in building bones.
  • Zinc- immune system, wound healing, improved stress levels, and much more.
raw honey
The benefits of honey are many.
I hope this helps enjoy more of the benefits from this wonderfully rich and tasty gift from the bees.

Have some happy honey filled days ahead!

Gwendolyn
Contributing Writer 


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

National Backpack Awareness Month



backpacks
"My backpack shouldn't look or feel like this!"
If you have children, then you know how heavy a backpack can get during the school year.  I have two teenagers and their backpacks are always packed full with heavy books, binders and school supplies.

When my girls first started school their backpacks were lighter and carrying them was a breeze. But once they hit junior high and high school, it was a whole different story.  I even have a hard time picking up their backpacks.  It's insane what they expect them to carry around.  In junior high they didn't have lockers so they had to tote their books around everywhere.

When the girls were little we used rolling backpacks because regular backpacks were too heavy. Now that they are stronger they use regular backpacks. Besides, rolling backpacks just aren't cool anymore, heaven forbid.

Their backpacks are so heavy that every year my youngest goes through two.  We don't buy cheap backpacks either!  We buy name-brand and they look and feel sturdy.  Either the zipper rips or the straps break anyway. This year we made it through two whole days before the zipper broke and ripped away from the bag.  I wasn't too happy since backpacks aren't cheap. I think it's ridiculous that kids are forced to carry so much on their backs. But, since that isn't going to change, I started thinking about what I could do to make this burden easier for my girls to carry.

The more backpack awareness we have the better off we are. I did some research and came across some good advice on back safety and keeping your child backache free.  I also found some guidelines that may help you keep your backpack longer so you don't have to buy more than one in a school year like I did. Also, Lands End, Jan Sport and LL Bean guarantee their backpacks.

Loading a Pack
In the above video, Karen Jacobs, Occupational Therapist, discusses selecting the right backpack, loading and wearing it correctly.
  • A child’s backpack should weigh no more than 10% of his or her body weight. This means a student weighing 100 pounds should wear a loaded backpack that is no heavier than ten pounds.
  •  Load heaviest items closest to the child’s back (the back of the pack).
  •  Arrange books and materials so they won’t slide around.
  •  Check what your child is carrying and make sure the items are necessary for the day’s activities.
  • If the backpack is too heavy or tightly packed, your child can carry the item in his or her hands. If the backpack is too heavy on a regular basis, consider using a book bag on wheels if your child’s school allows it.
Wearing a Pack
  • Distribute weight evenly by using both straps. Wearing a pack slung over one shoulder can make a child lean to one side, curving the spine and causing pain.
  • Find a backpack with well-padded shoulder straps. Shoulders and necks have many blood vessels and nerves that can cause pain and tingling in the neck, arms and hands when too much pressure is applied.
  • Adjust the shoulder straps so that the pack fits snugly on the child’s back. A pack that hangs loosely from the back can pull the child backwards and strain muscles.
  • Wear the waist belt if the backpack has one. This helps distribute the pack’s weight more evenly.
  • The bottom of the pack should rest in the curve of the lower back. It should never rest more than four inches below the child’s waistline.
  • School backpacks come in different sizes for different ages. Choose the right size pack for your child as well as one with enough room for necessary school items.
National Backpack Awareness Month

Did you know that over 2,000 backpack related injuries are reported every year?  That doesn't include the minor backaches children might not mention or that don't seem serious enough to treat. Why so many injuries, you ask? Well about 55% of students carry a backpack that is heavier than the recommended guideline of 10% of the student’s total body weight.  But, that isn't their fault.  They are required to have all those books! That is why we have National Backpack Awareness Month.  Schools starting to educate students and parents on how to properly load and carry their backpacks. If your school doesn't currently have something in place, you might want to ask your PTA or PTO to host a backpack safety education session.

A study of American students ages 11 to 15 years reported that 64% complained of back pain related to heavy backpacks and 21% reported the pain lasting more than 6 months.  Another study that taught middle school students how to load their backpacks properly was successful at reducing reported back pain.  Nearly 8 out of 10 students who changed how they loaded and wore their backpacks reported less pain and strain in their backs, necks and shoulders.  

Having a  National Backpack Awareness Month may sound overly cautious or zealous. Some might think it isn't that big of a deal, especially if you have younger kids.  As my kids have grown, I've watched their backpacks grow too. The older they get the heavier it gets. Being aware and having a well informed backpack community will help our children in the long run. I wish I knew what I know now, 10 years ago. I may have saved my child some backaches and money.  It's always smart to be safe rather than sorry.

Marci Psalmonds
Contributing Writer





Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Is Sitting Bad for Your Health?

Sitting – it’s so natural and relaxing.  It couldn’t possibly be bad for your health, right?

Wrong.  Or so some research indicates.  There is some new research that is saying that our health is not “on hold” or resting. As adults, our health is either getting better or getting worse. Our actions, or inaction, either promote a healthy body or an unhealthy one.

That isn’t to say that declining health is automatic the second your body settles into the comfy chair or that well-worn groove in your sofa. The new studies indicate that the negative effects of sitting on one’s health come from the amount of time we spend sitting.  The longer you remain seated without taking a physical break, the greater the negative effect.

Are you sitting down?

This July, the online journal BMJ indicated that sitting too long leads to a marked reduction in life expectancy.  According to the research, sitting for three or more hours a day is enough to slice two years off your life.  With the average life expectancy in the United States presently at 78.5 years according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), that means U.S. life expectancy for those whose jobs require substantial sitting will be lucky to see their 76th birthday.

U.S. life expectancy
Sitting too long can take 2 years off your life.
Other research supports this finding. Gretchen Reynolds, author and noted columnist for the New York Times Phys Ed blog, reveals in her newest book The First 20 Minutes that sitting for long periods of time without taking a break to stand up or move around actually causes our muscles to change, leading to changes throughout your body.   The body's ability to break up fat deposits goes to rest too, during long periods of uninterrupted sitting.  As a result, fat accumulates in the heart, liver and brain.  Gretchen Reynolds reports that it makes you sluggish and more tired and contributes to weight gain.

This new information could change the advice we've been given from fitness experts and government guidelines. Today’s federal health guidelines advise us to get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily.  But this new research indicates that just exercising before or after your eight-hour workday at the desk may not be enough to maintain good health. Instead you may need to add physical movement throughout the course of your day to avoid the negative effects of prolonged sitting.
 

Don’t take this lying down – take action!

The good news, also detailed in Reynolds’ book The First 20 Minutes, is that even by making small changes in your daily routine you can make significant improvements in your health.  Here are three steps you can take today to break up the normal routine of extended sitting.

1.  Take a stand
Reynolds explains that simply standing for two minutes after every 20 minutes of sitting can greatly improve your health.  Doing this is enough to improve how your body functions and could even help to decrease a person's risk of getting diabetes.


Not used to taking a break and standing every twenty minutes? Worried that your boss might think your actions decrease productivity? Reynolds recommends getting an inexpensive music stand; you can put your work papers or your phone on it and continue to do your work while in a standing position. Phone headsets also make movement while working much easier.

Many larger companies encourage employees to stand more often for health reasons. Some are even willing to provide standing-height desks for you. This makes it easier to lose weight and improve health even while working.

2.  Walk it off
Getting out of that chair and standing increases good health. Obviously, more is needed. Moving around will further promote good health.  That doesn’t mean you should do jumping jacks in the hallway or take off to the nearest gym and swim laps every twenty minutes!

exercising at a desk
It doesn't have to be elaborate, just walk in place for 2 minutes and exercise at a desk.
Try walking in place for two minutes when you stand up.  The benefits of walking for weight loss are well documented.  Take a short walk around the cubicle farm or to the break room and back. For a glass of water, not for a doughnut! Remember that walking exercises burn calories.  How many calories?  That depends on several things like your weight, the temperature and other factors.  This is a good rule of thumb: assume that walking one mile burns 100 calories if you weigh 180 pounds or 65 calories if you weigh 120 pounds.

3.  Engage in “deskxercising”
You can engage in desk exercises without standing up. The more energetic these exercises are, the greater the health benefits. You can do simple arm and leg movements or stomach contractions exercises while sitting at your desk or during your two minute standing break.  Exercises like this can also increase your calorie burning.

New to exercising at your desk?  Fortunately, the Internet is full of advice on desk-side exercises and movements you can easily adapt to your office environment. Search Google.com, Yahoo.com, or Bing.com using the phrases exercise from desk or exercising at a desk.
 

Make it a habit

Taking a two minute break every 20 to 30 minutes can be difficult if it's not part of your routine. Consider making a “movement” commitment with a coworker in which you both agree to stand and take a two minute walk every 20 or 30 minutes.

If you work alone, use an egg timer counting down 20 minutes to help you remember to stand up and walk around.  After you’ve done this for a couple of weeks it will become a habit, hopefully one that is hard to break.

Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer





Friday, August 31, 2012

An Apple A Day

August is the time to get apples from the farmsor in my case, my yard.  I was lucky to buy a home with fully mature apple trees on the property.  In fact, I have several different varieties available and ready for the picking.  I’m not even certain of all the types of apples I am growing, but I can tell you that here in Seattle, “It is a great year for apples."   
nutritional benefits apples
Healthy and sweet there are many types of apples!
I have lived in this house for 4 years, and this year's harvest is the biggest yet. That could mean lower prices for apples at the store.  But if low prices don't make your mouth water for this tasty fruit, then knowing the nutritional benefits will.  So take advantage of our bountiful harvest and, hopefully, great prices.

A Tempting Fruit

First things first… how many calories are in an apple?  A medium apple has about 95 calories and counts as one cup of fruit.

What about the health benefits of apples… Is it true that an apple a day keeps the doctor away? Here are a few of the nutrition facts:
  • Vitamin C – one of the benefits of apples is immune boosting Vitamin C.  Apples provide about 14% of the daily recommended value.  
  • Pectin – a fiber that helps lower blood pressure and sugar levels.
  • Boron -- a nutrient that supports strong bones and a healthy brain.
  • Quercetin--  a powerful antioxidant with anti-histamine effects. This may be a great way  to curb allergy symptoms. Or at least keep those sneezes to a minimum. I don’t think it is an accident that apples come into season at the same time as allergies. 
  • Phytonutrients plant chemicals that help prevent disease. Apples are full of them. They include vitamins A,  E, and beta carotene. They may have an effect on overall health and may reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and asthma.
Just think… all these benefits in one little fruit.  The fiber content, health benefits and how satisfying an apple is make it a great snack.  I’d say these 95 calories are well worth it. Whether you're trying to lose weight or just stay fit, apples are truly a great choice. 

As fresh fruits go, those are some impressive apple nutrition facts!  I think it's safe to say that  an apple a day might just keep the doctor away.

Oh the Variety

It turns out there are about 7,500 varieties of apples. That's a lot of choice! You're bound to find at least one that will satisfy your tastes. Here is a list of just a few of the top favorites, just in case there is one you haven’t tried yet. These varieties are grown here in Washington state. Since we are known for our apples, I thought this would be a good place to start: 
  • Jonathan - sweet and juicy with a tang
  • Gala - sweet and crunchy
  • Fuji - mildly sweet, juicy and crisp
  • Braeburn - firm texture, sweet with a hint of tart
  • Granny Smith - firm and smooth with a tart flavor
  • Red and Golden Delicious - firm and crisp can be very sweet or mildly sweet, depending on the climate where they are grown
  • Honey Crisp - very crispy and juicy, flavor ranges from mildly sweet to very sweet
  • Cameo - a crisp crunch with a deep juicy flavor
  • Cripps Pink - firm and crisp, they have a tangy-tart sweet flavor
apple pie apple crisp
Easy does it with this easy apple dessert.
One of the things I love best about apples is the many tasty apple dessert recipes. From apple pie to apple crisp or plain sliced apples with caramel dip, they're all delicious. But let’s not forget apple cider, a real favorite up here in the Northwest! 

Juicing apples is a great way to get the most from all the nutrients available in this family favorite. Since finding easy apple dessert recipes is well, easy, I thought I would include a juice recipe that my husband and grandson really love! So pull out that juicer you bought but never use, because this is one you'll want to make for yourself!
Yummier Than it Sounds Apple Juice Favorite
5 small to medium apples
3 stalks of celery
2-3 handfuls of spinach
1 small beet
½-1 cup purified water

Drink slowly and truly ENJOY! Have a fabulously clear headed and healthy day! 

Gwendolyn
Contributing Writer

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Alzeheimer's It's More Than a Memory

Don't Face Alzheimer's Alone

The video to the right is not just an ad - it is the reality of about 5.4 million people, not to mention the over 15 million unpaid caregivers responsible for caring for those suffering with Alzheimer's.

(Video from Alzheimers.gov - a free information source about Alzheimers)

When I noticed behavior changes in my mom, I feared she might have Alzheimer's. My grandmother developed Alzheimer's in her seventies. I knew that heredity played a part in Alzheimer's risk. But I didn't know many facts about dementia or Alzheimer's.  Dementia describes a range of symptoms that affect a person's memory and thinking abilities. Alzheimer's disease is one type of dementia and accounts for 60 to 80 percent of cases.

According to the Alzheimer's Association, one in eight Americans 65 and over are suffering from Alzheimer's. More than half are women. Every 68 seconds, someone in America develops Alzheimer's. It is the sixth leading cause of death in the US and out of the top ten leading causes, it is the only one that cannot be prevented or cured. About 800,000 people with Alzheimer's live alone, increasing their risk of falls/broken bones, infections, malnutrition and dehydration.

alzheimer's caregiver
Mom, third from the left, staying active with family.
My mom was working part time when she showed symptoms of dementia.  She was having problems with her boss and co-workers, making a lot of mistakes and had job duties taken away. That wasn't like my mom. Before retiring, she managed an office for eighteen years. She helped a small business grow into a multimillion dollar company. She knew her stuff!

Barry Reisberg, M.D. identifies this as part of mild cognitive decline,  third of a seven tiered framework of Alzheimer's stages.  A progressive disease, Alzheimer's symptoms might not be immediately noticeable and people progress at different rates.

Everyone forgets things from time to time. Who hasn't forgotten their next word, or mixed up the names of their own children? But what should you do if you suspect your loved one might be dealing with dementia?

How Do I Know?

There are no screening tests that diagnose dementia. It is diagnosed by reviewing symptoms and ruling out other conditions such as depression, infection, diabetes, brain tumor, small strokes, even certain vitamin deficiencies. It is important to consult a skilled health care provider in order to diagnose dementia.

The Alzheimer's Association lists information for what to expect during an examination and a doctor's office checklist that will help you and your caregiver prepare for your appointment. There are identified risk factors:
  • Close blood relative has Alzheimer's
  • History of head trauma
  • High blood pressure for a long time
  • Being female
  • Being older
  • Have certain genes linked to Alzheimer's, such as APOE epsilon4 allele
Sadly, there is no cure for Alzheimer's. However, there are treatments available that can help slow down the progress of the disease.  Medications can also help manage symptoms and some of the behavior problems associated with dementia.

Many families struggle with the high cost of anti-dementia drugs. Insurance might cover only a portion of the cost. The free FamilyWize discount prescription card helps manage the costs associated with dementia treatment for the following popular anti-dementia medications:
  • Aricept and Aricept ODT
  • Donezepil
  • Exelon
  • Rivastigmine
  • Galantamine
  • Namenda
  • Razadyne and Razadyne ER 
Dementia caregivers should also be aware that these medications and substances can increase confusion.
  • Pain killers
  • Antihistamines
  • Sleeping pills
  • Alcohol
Over the counter and prescription medicines should be carefully monitored and used only with the advise of your doctor.

After my mother fell in our home, injuring her back, the ER doctor prescribed Darvocet for pain. It's a standard pain medication. She became unresponsive to me the next day. She was more confused than normal. We went back to the ER and found that she had a reaction to Darvocet and determined that pain medicines increase her confusion.

I learned quickly to keep print outs of my mom's medications and dosages, along with instructions for what she can/cannot take. I give this to the emergency response team if we call 911, the ER nurse and doctor.

As caregivers, we are our loved one's advocate. I've had to take my mom to the ER many times in the past two years. Sometimes we go to the ER, come home, and go right back because she has taken another fall. For people living with dementia this can be the norm. We are part of our loved one's medical team. It's not only the doctors and nurses who administer treatments. We are a vital part of the decision making and we are the main line of communication between the professionals and our loved one.

Tips for Caregivers
The Alzheimer's Association has many links for caregivers, even caregiver dementia training.
Our previous blog, Tips for Elder Care - The Sandwich Generation  also has many tips and links to help caregivers.

Life's Full of Surprises
Remember that you are not alone when dealing with Alzheimer's. Take time to enjoy the moments that you have. Some days mom doesn't know who I am. I'm the girl who lives here with her.  This can be a heart breaking moment in dealing with Alzheimer's. Don't let it get you down. After all, when we were teenagers and we used to try to act like we didn't know them when out in public! Paybacks are....kinda funny sometimes, actually. Mom and I try to laugh a lot.  We've learned to let go of a lot from the past, but I also have fun getting to know my new daredevil mama who bought herself a new red car earlier this year.
dementia treatment assisted living
It's not a little red corvette, but mom's dealing with dementia in style!

Caroline Carr
Full-time Caregiver and Contributing Writer