Articles written by Lana Bell


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  • Promise yourself to take medicine as directed

    Lana Bell, For Senior Voice|Jun 1, 2015

    In my last column, I’m going to invite you to take a pledge. The goal for this year of columns was to share that it’s harder than it looks to take medicine correctly (75 percent of Americans don’t), and to give you tips and tools to avoid common pitfalls. Why? So you can safeguard your health. Not taking medicine as directed leads to more than one in three medicine-related hospitalizations and nearly 125,000 deaths each year. Now, we all know that no matter how much water you put in front of a h...

  • Driving? What about your medications?

    Lana Bell, For Senior Voice|May 1, 2015

    In the past few years, more than one older Alaskan has been in the news for a driving accident while medicated — with tragic or near-tragic consequences. An 82-year-old man was driving his 6-year-old grandson to school when he went through a red light, swerved onto a curb and almost hit a patrol car, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported. He faced charges of endangering the welfare of a child, reckless driving, and driving under the influence of several drugs, including Oxycodone and muscle r...

  • Aging changes how your body absorbs medications

    Lana Bell, For Senior Voice|Apr 1, 2015

    We’ve talked before about how our bodies process medications, alcohol and other substances differently as we age. So … what do we need to do with this information? Here are a few strategies to manage this change: Conduct a review Once a year, ask your provider to review your medicines and ask if she or he recommends any changes. The review should: • cover whether you’d benefit from a change in dosage for drugs you’ve been taking for a while, and • include a check to see if any medications...

  • Tips to help you manage your medications

    Lana Bell, For Senior Voice|Mar 1, 2015

    Reliably taking medications at the right time in the right way (with food, or an hour before eating, etc.) can be a serious chore. Here are a few common problems and tips. Remembering whether you took a prescription Finding a system that works for you to track whether you’ve taken each med is key. Some people like using pill dispensers, some people like a weekly paper chart with boxes they can check off. Once the meds are filled in, the chart can be photocopied and kept near where drugs are s...

  • Generics: As good as name-brand drugs? Yes

    Lana Bell, For Senior Voice|Feb 1, 2015

    As a Valentines’ Day present to yourself, you might ask your doctor if any of your prescriptions are coming available as generics. 2015 is slated to be a big year for popular name-brand drugs to come off patent. Some of the big names on the list are Abilify, Nexium, Epipen, Namenda, Zyvox and Emend. Here’s a list of anticipated generic medications: www.corporatepharmacy.com/page/upcoming_generic_drugs. Release dates may be delayed if manufacturers get into legal squabbles with each other. Man...

  • Making sure you can afford your prescriptions

    Lana Bell, For Senior Voice|Jan 1, 2015

    If affording your prescriptions is a challenge, please don’t turn to ‘cost-cutting’ measures like going without, or maybe taking one pill a day instead of two, or splitting your pills and only taking half your prescribed dose. These can end up costing you far more than they save you. There are almost always ways to make your prescriptions affordable. First, tell your pharmacist you need something cheaper. Sometimes you can take a less expensive medicine instead. For example, the New York Times...

  • Ensure your medicine first does no harm

    Lana Bell, For Senior Voice|Dec 1, 2014

    Medicine helps us tremendously, but occasionally we experience negative side effects, allergic reactions or other problems. Sometimes they’re quite serious. It’s important to be aware of potential problems so you can watch for them and report them right away before they become dangerous. An Anchorage woman recently contacted me and asked me to share her tale, in the hopes that it might spare others some of the trouble she’d had. I agreed, because I’ve heard so many similar stories over the yea...

  • Food, drinks, supplements interact with medications

    Lana Bell, For Senior Voice|Nov 1, 2014

    November is Thanksgiving month, a time when we reflect on our blessings and often celebrate them with food and drink — so it is also a good month to think about the tricks your food and drink can play on your medicines, like leftover Halloween pranks. Here are a few food-and-drug facts worth reflecting on: There are 249 drugs that interact with grapefruit juice. Grapefruit juice can interfere with how the body metabolizes (takes up and processes) medication. When medicine isn’t passing thr...

  • When it comes to medication, know your 'rights'

    Lana Bell, For Senior Voice|Oct 1, 2014

    Do you respect the “rights” of your medications? By that I mean taking the • right medication, at the • right dose, at the • right time, in the • right way. If you read the first column in this series, you may recall that three-quarters of Americans — yes, 75 percent — don’t manage to do so on a regular basis. Why? Well, it can be a lot less simple than it sounds. That’s what the Med Ed website and this column series is about — identifying common barriers and giving you strategies to get aro...

  • Questions you should ask about your prescriptions

    Lana Bell, For Senior Voice|Sep 1, 2014

    You may be able to take fewer medicines and pay less for the ones you do take by simply asking questions. Many people figure they are prescribed a medication for a good reason, and don’t ask why. But sometimes there’s another option — some conditions can be controlled through diet and exercise, for example. You can hear from a real, live Alaskan who whittled his prescriptions down substantially by asking what they were all for at MedEd.Alaska.gov (Success Stories video #2). Questions for your pr...

  • Don't let a key health care team member be under-used

    Lana Bell, For Senior Voice|Aug 1, 2014

    So who would you consider the most important member of your health care team? Your primary care doctor? Your specialist? Your pharmacist? In a crucial way, you are the most important member of your health care team. No one but you knows how many medications you take, or what side effects you’re experiencing. Many of us expect our doctors to be the experts in charge of our health care. They are experts, but on medicine, not on each of their individual patients’ lives. More than one provider may...

  • Medicine mistakes are common, can be serious

    Lana Bell, Senior Voice Correspondent|Jul 1, 2014

    Most Americans – 75 percent! – don't take their medicine as directed. Forgetting pills, taking them at the wrong time of the day, not filling a prescription because of cost or inconvenience – all these can take a serious toll on people's health – and wallets, if they end up in the doctor's office or hospital. People of all ages make medicine mistakes, but the chances go up the more prescriptions a person takes. So seniors, who often take several prescriptions, have to take special care. I'm Lan...

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