(Editor's Note: The following is a monthly Wellness Column provided by Medi-Wise Pharmacy in Newcomerstown.)
As the days keep getting shorter, does it feel as though there are fewer than 24 hours in a day? With the holiday's right on the horizon, there's so much to think about and so much to do. Here are a few end-of-year reminders to make sure your health -- and your pocketbook -- doesn't get the short end of the stick.
1. Get your flu shot. If you're like many people, getting a flu vaccination can easily slip your mind. But a flu shot is too important to get bumped to the bottom of your priority list. Every flu season is different, and every person responds to the flu in a different way. This year's vaccine has been improved to cover the flu that was common last year. The flu can lead to hospitalizations and even death. The flu season often begins in October, so there's no better time than the present. All Medi-Wise pharmacists are certified to administer the flu vaccination to persons 7 years of age and older. Pneumonia vaccinations are also available.
2. Plan for Medicare open enrollment. Every year, the open enrollment for Medicare is Oct. 15 through Dec. 7. This is when you can change your health plan and prescription drug coverage. Each year, your plan can change its coverage of the medications that you are on. Let us help you get ready for your plans changes in 2016 by scheduling a free meeting with a Medi-Wise pharmacist to review the best plans for your current medications. Just ask.
3. Switch to generics. Generic medications are identical to brand-name drugs in dosage, form, safety, strength, route of administration, quality, performance traits, and intended use. Here's how they're different: They're usually much less expensive than brand-name drugs. Not all medications have a generic equivalent for a brand-name drug. One way to find out is to go to Drugs@FDA. Or, we can also talk this over.
Switching to a generic medication might put a few (maybe more than a few) extra dollars back in your pocket. Wouldn't it be nice to have a little extra money for the holidays -- or to use however you choose?
4. Use or lose it. Do you have a flexible spending account (FSA)? This is a special account you put money into to pay certain out-of-pocket health costs. That might include copayments, deductibles, drugs, and other health care costs. Limited to $2,550 each year, this money is not taxable.
If you have an FSA, now is the time to use up your health benefit dollars -- or you'll lose them! Schedule eye or medical checkups before the end of the year. Some employers make allowances, though. So check to see if you have a grace period for using up the money or if you can carry over a limited amount of funds to the next year.
5. Schedule a "tune-up." Why not schedule a meeting with a Medi-Wise pharmacist to see if your medications are working as well as they can for you? You can also have basic lab work performed at Medi-Wise. We can help you come up with ways to remember to take your drugs and to order refills -- before you run out. Not happy with your drug's side effects? Both your doctor and I can work with you to adjust your dose or to find a substitute. There's no need for you to suffer in silence.
Nothing herein constitutes medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, or is a substitute for professional advice.You should always seek the advice of your physician or other medical professional if you have questions or concerns about a medical condition.