The news is full of stories that are forever reminding us that we have to be prepared for just about anything these days. Some may choose to take this to the level many think of as being a “prepper” while others have done little to nothing expecting all needs to be met by local or national officials and governments. Most are probably somewhere in the middle on many things but are likely to be woefully unprepared from a medical standpoint. With that in mind, what can the average American do to better prepare themselves and their families should there be a disruption in the normal flow of medical services?
1. Get healthy. While it may sound the simplest, it may actually be the hardest and, for some, impossible to do. However, if you have a few extra pounds, lose them. During the “good times”, lose as many of your bad habits as you can. These simple, albeit mentally hard, steps can prevent you from developing diabetes, heart disease or any of the other preventable health problems so many of us face. You will also want to be sure you are up to date with all your preventative healthcare and immunizations. Due to lack of sanitation and crowding into shelters, times of disaster are made all the worse by disease outbreaks. Talk to your healthcare professional now about what immunizations you may benefit from.
2. Stay healthy. Even if you have one or more chronic conditions, medical science has advanced to the point that many conditions are more of an annoyance than the killers they once were. That is, if you take your medications and follow your provider’s advice. This can be difficult for all of us. However, it is vitally important especially if you are faced with a situation in which you are being exposed to the elements, emotional or physical strain as well as diseases as mentioned above.
3. Keep supplied. Many of us rely on or are forced to rely on mail order prescriptions. Some services provide an abundant supply of medications with refills far in advance. Others, seem to always be behind. Try to always keep an extra month’s supply (at a minimum) of all “necessary for life” medications on hand. You may have to work with your provider and/or insurance company or even pay out of pocket but try to do so. Also, keep this extra supply (swapping it out each month with fresh medication) ready to take with you at a moment’s notice. Your medication will do no good if it is at home and you are in a rescue shelter weathering the hurricane force winds. I will go into other medical supplies in a future post that I recommend you keep on hand.
4. Keep it simple. At least once a year ask your Primary Care Provider to re-evaluate all of your medications and medical devices/therapies. Many providers are hesitant to make changes in a medication regimen that “is working”. That being said, most will at least entertain attempting to stop or relook at all the medications you may be on, if you ask. Even if you go from 20 to 19 medications, you may be able to save a bundle at the pharmacy and decrease side effects coming from medication interactions. Your special circumstance may make this impossible but you never know if you don’t ask.
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