It will come as no surprise to many that the 65+ year old crowd – aging baby boomers and older adults - are taking a lot of over-the counter (OTC) and prescription medicines, along with vitamins, dietary supplements and herbal remedies. As many as 55 million Americans will be older than age 65 by 2020. With the population of older adults soaring in the coming years, the prevalence of patients with chronic disease - who often take numerous prescription medications daily - is likely to increase as well.  Add in those over 65 taking medicines for occasional or chronic pain -- in sheer numbers, it’s pretty staggering, putting them at significantly higher risk for drug-drug and drug–alcohol interactions, adverse events, medication errors and falls. One of the major risk

factors for falls is medications and their adverse effects. According to CDC, falls are the number one cause of injury and deaths from injury among older Americans. One in four Americans aged 65+ falls each year. Every 11 seconds, an older adult is treated in the emergency room for a fall; every 19 minutes, an older adult dies from a fall. Falls are the leading cause of fatal injury and the most common cause of nonfatal trauma-related hospital admissions among older adults. Consider: Older adults use more medications, including prescription, OTC, and supplements, than any other age group in the United States. Older adults often use multiple medications, increasing the risk of drug–drug interactions, mix-ups, and the potential for harmful adverse effects. Older adults tend to…

Since 1999, October is Health Literacy Month. This week is also National Health Education Week. Health literacy is defined as the degree to which an individual has the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions. Being able to comprehend health information allows people to navigate the healthcare system, keep track of their medical history, competently engage in self-care, and understand probability of health risks. Health literacy is the main form of defense against misinformation prevalent in our society. Knowledge of the facts is key to combat the influence of those who would fly in the face of medical and scientific studies on subjects such as vaccinations or family planning services.  Dangerous pseudoscience can be avoided, saving

individuals money and suffering at the hands of those who either don’t know or don’t care. Despite this, only 12% of adults have “Proficient” health literacy according to the National Assessment of Adult Literacy. This means nearly nine out of ten American adults may lack the knowledge necessary to manage their health and prevent disease. Populations most likely to experience low health literacy are the elderly, racial and ethnic minorities, people with less than a high school-equivalent education, people with low-income, non-native English speakers, and individuals with compromised health status.   NeedyMeds’ BeMedWise Program also recognizes October as Talk About Your Medicines Month (TAYMM) as an opportunity to focus attention on the value that better medicine communication. For over 30 years, TAYMM has been…

It is the time of year that children are preparing to return to school where they will be exposed to lots of new experiences and ideas but also higher risk of exposure to viruses and other illnesses. Here are tips to ensure your children have a successful and healthy time in school. Vaccinations are the best course for preventing illness. In addition to the vaccines recommended by your doctor, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends an annual flu vaccine for everyone over 6 months of age. Sleep is essential to keep children (and adults) focused throughout the day. Adults need about eight hours of sleep, while young children often need more. It’s important to set a bedtime that ensures they get enough sleep, and to

keep a consistent schedule. It is never too early to teach good hygiene habits. To help children avoid getting sick and prevent them from bringing germs home, it’s important to show them how to wash their hands after using the restroom or before eating. A healthy diet can help children grow and learn more effectively, as well as keep their immune systems primed to fight off illness. Avoid junk food and soft drinks, and consider packing children’s lunches with healthy snacks. Going back to school is stressful for both parents and kids; for some children, it may be a new sensation. Help manage stress by talking to children about anything bothering them and take care not to overload anyone’s schedule. Schoolwork is important,…

More and more communities across the country are encountering a commonly overlooked public health and safety issue: improper needle and sharps disposal. “Sharps” is a medical term for devices with sharps points or edges that can puncture or cut skin. Examples of sharps are needles, syringes, lancets, auto injectors, epinephrine and insulin pens, infusion sets, and connection needles/sets. The group of people who are put in the most danger by improper sharps disposal are environmental service workers – janitors, housekeepers, waste and recycling workers and sewage treatment workers. When a needle is tossed directly into the trash, it has the potential to stick whoever removes that trash. So the janitor may get stuck, the garbage-man may get stuck, and the waste-worker at the waste facility could

get stuck. It is also possible for an animal to get to the needle or for it to tear through a trash bag. Any of these scenarios may ultimately expose the needle to neighbors and children. Such injuries cost thousands of dollars in medical testing and cause great stress on victims. Sharps that are placed in the recycling can also jam or damage machinery at sorting facilities. If flushed down the toilet, sharps can cause sewer blockages as well as other problems with wastewater collection and treatment. Over 9 million Americans use sharps every day at home to manage a wide variety of conditions, including: allergies, arthritis, cancer, infertility, migraines, multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis, blood clotting disorders, psoriasis and more. On top of that statistic,…

It is the time of year that children have returned to school where they will be exposed to lots of new experiences and ideas but also higher risk of exposure to viruses and other illnesses. Here are tips to ensure your children have a successful and healthy time in school. Vaccinations are the best course for preventing illness. In addition to the vaccines recommended by your doctor, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends an annual flu vaccine for everyone over 6 months of age. Sleep is essential to keep children (and adults) focused throughout the day. Adults need about eight hours of sleep, while young children often need more. It’s important to set a bedtime that ensures they get enough sleep, and to keep a

consistent schedule. It is never too early to teach good hygiene habits. To help children avoid getting sick and prevent them from bringing germs home, it’s important to show them how to wash their hands after using the restroom or before eating. A healthy diet can help children grow and learn more effectively, as well as keep their immune systems primed to fight off illness. Avoid junk food and soft drinks, and consider packing children’s lunches with healthy snacks. Going back to school is stressful for both parents and kids; for some children, it may be a new sensation. Help manage stress by talking to children about anything bothering them and take care not to overload anyone’s schedule. Schoolwork is important, but it…