(BPT) - As we get older, the ones we love inevitably age too. For many, there comes a time where you are no longer just a son, daughter or family member — you’re a caregiver. Ensuring your aging parent or loved one is able to manage and afford their medical treatments can have an enormous impact on their health and quality of life.
Dan Klein, president and CEO of the Patient Access Network (PAN) Foundation, the largest independent charitable organization dedicated to helping people pay their out-of-pocket costs for prescribed treatments, offers five simple ways you can help an aging family member manage their treatment — so you can both live healthier and happier lives.
1. Meet with their doctor or healthcare provider.
Building a relationship with their healthcare provider will help lay the groundwork for future communication and care management. Before attending an appointment, talk to your parent or family member about their needs and concerns, make a list of the medications they are taking and the renewals they may need and determine together what you’d like to accomplish. If drug costs are a financial burden, don’t be shy about asking for samples or if there are less expensive generic equivalents available.
2. Check in with the pharmacist.
Connecting with your parent or family member’s pharmacist is an excellent way to become familiar with their treatment plan and ask questions about potential side effects and interactions of prescribed drugs. Be sure to ask about mail order options offered by some insurance plans and specialty pharmacies, which can save money and time by delivering a three-month supply of medication directly to their home.
3. De-clutter the medicine cabinet.
It is common for those struggling with chronic or multiple illnesses, particularly in old age, to have multiple prescriptions from different healthcare providers, each with complicated regimens that may make it difficult to keep track of what pills to take and when. You can help by ensuring their medicines are organized, accessible and stored appropriately.
Auditing their medicine cabinet is a good place to start. Make note of anything that is running low and order refills where needed. You can visit fda.gov for information on how to appropriately dispose of medications that have expired or are no longer necessary.
A pill organizer box can help keep track of complicated treatment schedules and reduce the risk of missing a dose or doses. Free pill reminder apps, such as Medisafe Pill & Med Reminder, allow you to manage the accounts of multiple family members.
4. Review Medicare or insurance coverage.
Diagnoses and treatments can frequently change and it’s therefore important to ensure your parent or family member’s Medicare or insurance plan still meets their needs. It is worth paying particular attention to their prescription drug plan, which can differ year to year. Online tools, like The National Council on Aging’s Benefits Checkup Tool and Medicare Interactive sponsored by the Medicare Rights Center can help you review benefits and find the best option for them.
They may also be eligible for other Medicare programs — like a Low-Income Subsidy — that can lower out-of-pocket costs.
5. Find out if charitable financial assistance is available.
The PAN Foundation is one of several charities that provides financial assistance for out-of-pocket costs. You can learn more about patient assistance charities at panfoundation.org. You can also download FundFinder, a free app developed by the PAN Foundation that notifies you when assistance becomes available from any of the major charitable patient assistance foundations.
(BPT) - They say you’re only as young as you feel, and if you're an older American, the ability to feel young a little while longer is always appealing. Having a youthful state of mind goes a long way toward accomplishing this goal, but you can’t ignore the importance of solid physical health.
To improve your physical and mental health and prove age is just a number, apply these five tips from Mayo Clinic today.
* Find the perfect interval. If you’ve never participated in high-intensity interval training before, here’s a compelling reason to start. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic found high-intensity aerobic exercise actually reversed some cellular aspects of aging. The research also found that the exercise improved muscle proteins, enlarged muscles and increased energy levels.
* The benefit of brain games. A sharp mind is every bit as important as a healthy body, and exercising your brain can be a lot of fun. Spend time learning new things on the internet, enroll in a class for that craft you've always wanted to master, go out with friends or sit down and play a board game. All of these activities can greatly improve your mental health. For example, a Mayo Clinic study found playing games decreased a person's risk of mild cognitive impairment by 22 percent making this enjoyable activity healthy as well.
* Supplementing your health. Health supplements should never completely replace whole food offerings, but they may offer you real health value as well. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, supplements may be ideal for vegans and vegetarians or those who consume less than 1,600 calories per day. People with a condition affecting the way their body absorbs nutrients and those who have had surgery on their digestive tract should also speak with their doctor about supplements that may improve their overall health.
* The importance of sleep. A good night’s sleep offers health benefits at any age, but getting enough rest can be more difficult as you get older. To get a better night's sleep, review your medications with your doctor to see if anything is impacting your rest. You should also try to limit your daytime napping (just 10 to 20 minutes per day is best) and avoid alcohol, caffeine or even water within a couple hours before bedtime.
* Focus on your sexual health. This topic may not be as widely discussed as your physical or mental health, but it is no less important. Men should talk to their doctors about their lessening testosterone levels, which drop about 1 percent per year after age 30. Women may experience a similar drop in estrogen levels as well and should consult their doctor for treatment options. Don’t be shy about discussing sexual health issues with your doctor, from STDs to annual checkups, having a thorough understanding of your current sexual health — and what you need to do to protect or improve it — will benefit every other part of your life.
With aging comes new challenges and the need to be more vigilant in maintaining your overall well-being. By incorporating some of the tips above from the experts at Mayo Clinic, you'll make sure the best years of your life are still to come. You can learn more about improving your health at any age through the advice offered in Mayo Clinic on Healthy Aging, or visit http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle for more healthy lifestyle ideas.
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