by Robert S. Dinsmoor
46. Clip grocery coupons — but use them judiciously. That is, use them only for items you would normally buy anyway.
47. To save money on your medicines, ask your doctor whether there are suitable generic versions of the drugs you take. Generic versions are often substantially cheaper than their brand-name counterparts.
48. For another way to save money on medicines, ask your doctor or pharmacist whether you can get the medicine at double the dose and then split the pill in half.
49. To help you remember to take your medicines, try taking them at the same time each day or linking the medicine to a regular routine, such as brushing your teeth.
50. To keep track of your medicines, buy a pillbox divided into compartments. Often these boxes have compartments for each day of the week and have room for several pills. When the compartment is empty, you know that you’ve taken all your pills for the day.
51. Get in the habit of reading the labels of all medicines you take, even over-the-counter drugs. Labels contain warnings about possible side effects and drug interactions, and these warnings are subject to change.
52. Clean out your medicine cabinet during spring cleaning. Toss out any medicines that are past their expiration date. Some drugs become less potent and some can even become toxic over time.
53. Bring along all your drugs, or a list of them, the next time you visit the doctor. That way the doctor can look at possible drug interactions and side effects and possibly recommend newer, more effective drugs.
54. When you pick up a prescription or OTC drug, be sure to ask the pharmacist about any of its possible side effects or drug interactions.
55. Consider a cane. A cane can relieve stress on the joints of the leg, can help strengthen weakened leg muscles, and can increase your stability as you walk.
56. Install a plastic seat and nonskid mats in your bath or shower, and use liquid soap instead of a bar of soap. Aids for Arthritis and Sammons Preston carry products that can make bathing easier and safer.
57. Install handrails next to the toilet and tub to make standing up and sitting down easier.
58. Place nonslip pads under the rugs in your home.
59. Position lamps and light switches near the entry point of a room so you don’t have to grope in the dark to find the light switch. (You could also buy glow-in-the-dark switches.)
60. Make sure all stairways are well lit, with switches at the top and bottom of the stairs.
61. Keep a lamp and telephone near your bed. This way, you won’t have to climb out of bed in the dark or jump out of bed to answer the phone.
62. Learn to keep clutter off the floor to minimize your risk of tripping.
63. If you’re prone to falling or have fallen before, consider getting a medical alarm. Medical alarms, worn around the neck or wrist, allow you to contact emergency responders if you are unable to get to the telephone.
64. Get yourself screened for colon cancer starting at age 50. There are a variety of different tests available, including tests for occult blood in the stool, sigmoidoscopy, and colonoscopy. Ask your doctor which screening methods are appropriate for you.
65. If you’re a woman 21 years old or older, get regular pap smears. Many women, especially older women, never or rarely get pap smears, which can detect precancerous changes in the cells of the cervix. Experts say that regular pap smears could prevent almost all of the deaths from cervical cancer that occur in the United States.
66. Get a copy of your medical records, which can be helpful in understanding your treatment.
67. Figure out your body mass index, or BMI. To calculate your BMI, multiply your weight in pounds by 703, and then divide this number by your height in inches multiplied by your height in inches. (So, for example, a 65-inch person weighing 140 pounds would have a BMI of 140 X 703 divided by 65 X 65, which works out to about 23.3.) A BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 represents a normal weight. A BMI of 25 to 29.9 represents being overweight. Those with a BMI of 30 or over are considered obese.
68. Get inoculated. Proper immunization can prevent many cases of influenza and pneumococcal pneumonia, which kill tens of thousands of Americans each year. However, most elderly Americans fail to take advantage of immunization.
69. Know the signs of a stroke. Timely treatment of a stroke could save thousands of people from death and disability each year. Symptoms of a stroke include sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body; sudden confusion or trouble speaking or understanding speech; sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes; sudden trouble walking, dizziness, or loss of balance or coordination; and sudden severe headache with no known cause. If you or anyone around you experiences one or more of these symptoms, call 911 immediately.
Last Reviewed on November 10, 2010
Robert S. Dinsmoor is a medical writer and editor based in Massachusetts.
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