Wednesday, April 19, 2017

4 Tips to Trim Your Family’s Spending


As the holiday season, with its terrifying credit card bills, fades more and more into our collective memory, we’re all starting to feel safe to spend money again. We are preparing warm weather wardrobes, booking flights for summer vacations, and putting down deposits for summer camps.

With that in mind, spring is a perfect time to think about our spending and how we can keep it in check. At FamilyWize, we want to help you save money. Here are four tips to trim your family’s spending:

Track

Track every dollar that you are spending. You won’t know whether or not you are overspending unless you know what you spend. We put this tip first on purpose because no one wants to hear it. If you think that you may have a spending problem, it is way too easy to just put your head in the sand and pat yourself on the back for clipping a few coupons. Coupons help, but they won’t ensure that you will avoid financial disaster. 

The team at Get Rich Slowly has a nice comprehensive approach to tracking your spending each month, so that you will have a clear picture of your financial situation.

Touch

Touch your money and pay cash as often as possible. This is an age-old trick because it works. We all love the convenience of plastic, but if your spending is out of control then removing the convenience of a credit card will help. The AARP makes an insightful research-based case for why the extra pain of paying by cash will help you to be more thoughtful with each purchase.

Delay

You walk into Target and see the TV that you have been coveting for months on sale. You know that the sale is temporary and that stock will be limited. Do you pull the trigger?

The experts at MoneyUnder30 say to delay. Give yourself a 24-hour period to think about the purchase before you make it. That delay will help you to remove the emotion from your purchase. Do you still need to replace your old TV? Then buy a new one. Were you just looking for a big pick-me-up after a bad day at work? Then look at the money you are saving for your next vacation and spend some time daydreaming about your trip instead.

Research

Once you start tracking your spending and you know where your money is going each month, you have the opportunity to do a little research. Could you find a better deal on your car insurance? Maybe a few minutes spent comparison shopping will lead to a smaller payment.

Are you regularly spending a lot of money on prescription medications? Regardless of your insurance situation, we here at FamilyWize can help you spend less money on your family’s prescription drugs with the Free FamilyWize Prescription Discount Card. Get your own card or download the app today.

How do you trim your family’s spending? Let us know on our Facebook page!



Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Ask an Expert: A Quick Guide to Controlled Substances



This post is part of our “Ask an Expert” blog series. In this post, Ken Majkowski, Pharm.D and Chief Pharmacy Officer at FamilyWize, addresses a common question consumers have when it comes to prescription drugs. Ken brings more than 40 years of healthcare experience to the FamilyWize team, including 14 years of clinical pharmacy experience in retail, hospital and home care. Read his full bio, here.

Most of us have a very general understanding that a controlled substance is a drug or chemical that is restricted by the federal government because it can be physically or psychologically addictive, possesses psychoactive properties, or is illegal to sell or distribute for various reasons.

From time to time, we receive questions from families or individuals looking for more information about controlled substances and how they relate to common prescriptions.

Below, we have pulled together a brief summary of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) to help address some of these questions. As always, please speak with your doctor and pharmacist for additional information.

What is a Controlled Substance?

Controlled substances are chemicals that are regulated by the federal government, including both illegal drugs and legal medications.

The CSA was signed into law in 1970 as a way to curb drug dealing, trafficking, and abuse. It specifically names:

       Which drugs are controlled substances
       When it is illegal to make, sell or have controlled substances
       The punishments for breaking these laws

The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is tasked with enforcing the CSA.

Controlled substances are broken down into five different groups, called schedules, based on how physically or psychologically addictive they are, how likely they are to be abused, and how legal controlled substances must be prescribed and dispensed for appropriate medical use. Each group is controlled by a different set of regulations.

What Do Patients Need to Know about Controlled Substances?

First, controlled substances are more commonly used than you might think. Lyrica, Codeine, Ambien, Valium, Adderall, anabolic steroids, and all narcotic painkillers are examples of drugs identified as controlled substances.

Second, your doctor and your pharmacist have to follow strict protocols when prescribing and dispensing these drugs – including how the prescription must be sent to the pharmacy and whether or not and how often they can be refilled without a new prescription. These protocols are monitored by the DEA and professionals who fail to follow them are breaking federal law.

If you understand the restrictions doctors and pharmacists must follow related to controlled substances, you can better plan for it if, or when, you need a new prescription or refill.

We all benefit from the careful use and monitoring of controlled substances. For additional information, please see the DEA’s Controlled Substances website.

Do you have another question for our pharmacist? Visit FamilyWize on Facebook and let us know.



Wednesday, April 5, 2017

It Takes a Village to Raise a Healthy Child [Every Kid Healthy™ Week]


Every Kid Healthy™ Week is observed the last week of April each year to celebrate school health and wellness achievements. This special week highlights the connection between nutrition, physical fitness, and learning, and encourages schools to host events that promote and reinforce healthy eating, nutrition education, physical activity, and physical education.

The old saying “It takes a village to raise a child” is just as true now as it was hundreds of years ago. As we approach Every Kid Healthy Week, we wanted to share some of the modern “villagers” or resources available to families to help keep your children healthy.

Local School Districts
Regardless of whether you send your children to public or private schools, today’s educators build health and wellness into their curriculum more than ever before. Most children in the United States attend school for six hours a day and consume as much as half of their daily calories while at school. Because of that fact, the federal government has created programs like the USDA Farm to School Program, which helps schools to incorporate healthy local produce into their breakfast and lunch programs.

Local Park Districts
It is hard not to love Leslie Knope’s enthusiasm for her local park district on Parks and Rec, but in all seriousness, today’s modern park districts are doing incredible things to help raise healthy children in their communities. For example, the National Recreation and Park Association considers health and wellness to be one of its three core missions. Visit this page to read more about the organization’s national initiatives and how it improves parks and open spaces for the health of our children.

Local Pediatrician Offices and Clinics
Today, many pediatrician offices are doing more than just reactively treating ear infections and pink eye outbreaks.  They are proactively helping their young patients to tackle serious public health issues like obesity, drug abuse, and sports injuries. Check out the bulletin boards at your local pediatrician’s office for events and activities near you, or visit HealthyChildren.org – a website created by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Your family’s local drugstore is more than just a place to pick up prescriptions. Your local pharmacist can help you understand how drugs may interact with one another, which medications may be best for your daughter’s sensitive stomach, and can advise you of when more cost-effective treatments may be available. The Free FamilyWize Prescription Discount Card can also play a role by helping your family save money on each and every prescription drug purchase. Use the Drug Price Lookup Tool to research the best prices in your area without ever leaving home and the online Medicine Cabinet to save your family’s frequent searches.

We are all villagers and the health of our children matters to all of us. Will you be participating in a local Every Kid Healthy™ Week event? Let us know on our Facebook page!

Sources:
·         www.everykidhealthyweek.org



Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Poison Prevention Week 2017: How to Store Your Family’s Medications


March 19-25th was National Poison Prevention Week. Poisoning is the number one cause of injury-related death in the United States.

According to the CDC, 82 percent of American adults take at least one medication, and almost one third of Americans take five or more. Unfortunately, each year there are 700,000 ER visits and 120,000 hospitalizations due to adverse drug events… many of which are completely preventable through careful use.

At FamilyWize, we spend most of our time thinking about how families purchase and use their medications because we want you to stay healthy. We ask you to please read through these tips and take the necessary steps to protect your family.

How to Safely Store Your Family’s Medications

Store Up, Away, and Out of Sight
Store all medications up and away from children. Be careful not to leave your next dose out on a counter or table. Never leave any medication on a table or counter when you leave the room, even just for a minute.

Use the Original Container
Keep all medications in their original containers with the child safety cap completely and evenly closed at all times.

Monitor Use
Turn on the light each time you give or take a medication to make sure you administer the correct dose. Track or write down each dose to avoid skipping doses or accidently double dosing. Pay particular attention to prescription painkillers and/or medications prescribed for the treatment of conditions like attention deficit disorder (e.g. ADD, ADHD), etc., which can be easier to abuse than other medications.

Practice Safe Disposal
Unused medications should be disposed of as quickly as possible to prevent unintentional ingestion or misuse. Avoid throwing prescriptions into the trash or flushing them down the toilet. Community disposal events are a much safer and more environmentally friendly option (read the FDA’s recommendations here).

Your family’s health and safety is important. For more information about Poison Prevention Week, please visit this webpage.

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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Four Ways to Soothe Your Headache


Nothing works when your head hurts. Headaches are one of the top five reasons people go to the pharmacy and one of the top ten reasons people visit their doctor. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that almost half of the adult population has had a headache at least once within the last year.

So, how do you make the pain stop? Here are four ways to soothe your aching head:

Take a Break
Sometimes headache management is as simple as taking a break from what you are doing. Take a nap, take a walk, or simply sit in a quiet, dark room with your eyes closed. Many people with chronic headache conditions know that retreating from stimulation like bright lights and loud noises can have an immediate impact on how they feel.

Use Massage
While you may not be able to immediately leave work for a professional massage (though those are known to help as well), simply massaging your temples or the back of your neck can help ease headache pain. WebMD and the Cleveland Clinic both recommend applying gentle, steady, rotating pressure to the painful area of your head with your index finger or thumb. Maintain pressure for 7 to 15 seconds, then release. Repeat as needed.

Apply Warm or Cold Compresses
Depending on the type of headache you are experiencing, a warm or cold compress can be very helpful. According to the Mayo Clinic, ice packs have a numbing effect, which may dull the sensation of pain. Hot packs and heating pads can relax tense muscles. This can be in place of or in addition to over-the-counter pain medication.

Speak with a Professional
Finally, get a professional diagnosis. The WHO’s headache fact sheet (find it here) is surprisingly serious in tone. The WHO identifies headache disorders as dangerously underdiagnosed and undertreated conditions.  A doctor can help to identify the cause of your specific pain and recommend a treatment plan that will work for you. Medication, as well as lifestyle modification, may be recommended. If so, remember that the Free FamilyWize Prescription Discount Card or app (Apple or Android) can help you to keep your prescription drug costs low.

Are you a frequent headache sufferer? Share your tips on our Facebook page and help others stop the hurt.

Sources:
http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/migraine-headache/in-depth/migraines/art-20047242


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Five Ingredients Frugal Chefs Love



If you use the FamilyWize Prescription Discount Card, then you already know that a little planning can save your family a lot of money on prescription medications. Well, a little menu planning can also save you a lot of money on your weekly grocery bill!

We combed through some of the most popular budget food blogs to identify five inexpensive (and healthy!) ingredients that even the most frugal chef will love.

Beans
Skip the canned beans – basic dried beans might be the quintessential cheap health food. Canned beans have added sodium – and a higher cost – than dried beans, which you can often buy in bulk.

According to WebMD, “A serving (1/3 cup of cooked beans) contains around 80 calories, no cholesterol, lots of complex carbohydrates, and little fat. In addition, beans are a good source of B vitamins, potassium, and fiber, which promotes digestive health and relieves constipation. Eating beans may help prevent colon cancer, and reduce blood cholesterol (a leading cause of heart disease).”

Rice
Avoid instant rice, boil-in-a-bag, or any other packaged products; buy rice in bulk. Nutrition-focused budget experts encourage brown rice over white, but most varieties are inexpensive and can be used in a wide variety of ways – just be sure to plan for additional cooking time, depending on your cooking method.

Eggs
The all-powerful egg is considered to be one of the best, inexpensive ways to keep protein in your diet. Read price tags carefully – some supermarkets will put cage-free or organic options on sale from time to time, giving you even more choices on a tight budget.

Oatmeal
Again, avoid the “instant” oatmeal or individual packages and buy plain, old-fashioned oats. Oatmeal lasts a long time in your pantry, provides solid nutrition, and can be prepared a variety of ways (have you tried the overnight oats trend?).

Carrots, cabbage, potatoes, and onions
We put these veggies into one category because at most supermarkets they are all extremely inexpensive (artisanal varieties excluded), extremely nutritious, and extremely multipurpose. Keeping these basic produce items on hand makes it easy to pull together a healthy, inexpensive meal.

For even more ideas, check out the Food Network’s 10 Healthy Dinners for about $10.

Motivated to save?  Make sure you download the FamilyWize card or app today!

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Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Ask an Expert: Does It Matter When I Take My Medication?


In our new “Ask an Expert” Blog Series, Ken Majkowski, Pharm.D and Chief Pharmacy Officer at FamilyWize, addresses some of the most common questions consumers have when it comes to prescription drugs and drug costs. Ken brings more than 40 years of healthcare experience to the FamilyWize team, including 14 years of clinical pharmacy experience in retail, hospital, and home care. Read his full bio here.

We’ve all taken a medication with food to avoid an upset stomach. Many of us have also been advised by our pharmacist to drink a full glass of water with some medications. But did you know that the time of day you take a prescription drug may also be important? If your pharmacist says to take your dose at the same time each day, please listen!

Timing matters

For certain prescription drugs, dosage timing is critically important. Here are some common examples:

Statins for high cholesterol

Cholesterol production in the liver is highest after midnight and lowest during the morning and early afternoon. Because of that natural rhythm, the British Heart Foundation asserts that statins are most effective when taken just before bedtime.

Blood pressure medication

The timing of blood pressure medication has been a hot topic in the last year. There are some recent studies that suggest that taking blood pressure drugs just before bed can prevent more heart attacks than taking them first thing in the morning. This is because a majority of heart attacks occur in the early morning hours. Having said that, there are many factors to consider. For instance, doctors often recommend that older patients take their blood pressure medication in the morning, because if they take it in the evening, standing up too quickly in the middle of the night can cause a sudden drop in blood pressure and result in a fall. Sometimes split dosing makes sense (i.e. taking half the dose in the morning and half the dose in the evening), but some medications are long acting or cannot be split. It is critical that you discuss dosing with your doctor or pharmacist before making any changes.

Birth control

While you have more flexibility if you take a combination birth control pill (meaning it includes both estrogen and progesterone), if you choose to take a progesterone-only pill, then taking your dose at the same time each day becomes extremely important. Commonly prescribed for breastfeeding women and those avoiding estrogen, the pills work by making cervical mucous unfavorable for sperm. The effect can wear off fairly quickly. Doctors recommend taking your pill within the same (roughly) three-hour period each day to make sure the drug is effective at preventing pregnancy.

If you are unsure when to take a prescription medication, please be sure to ask your pharmacist for guidance. He or she will be able to discuss what will work best for you.

Here’s to a long and healthy life!

 FamilyWize on Facebook and let us know. Find us at https://www.facebook.com/FamilyWize/

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