5 Tips for Managing Seniors Medications

5 Tips for Managing Seniors Medications

With a growing population of older adults and the availability of medications, the potential for medication safety problems will increase. When people age, they are more likely to be taking more than one type of medication.  Seniors normally take more than three.  Taking multiple medications increases the risk for mix-ups in what is being taken, drug interactions and potential side effects.

Aging adults are more susceptible to effects from medications and may respond differently than younger individuals.  Changes in the kidneys, heart, liver and central nervous system occur. This causes more vulnerability to overdose or severe side effects.  Eyesight and memory loss can be affected as we age.  This makes it harder to remember taking medication and following directions.  Below we will explore some tips on managing medications for seniors.

Bring A Medications List To Your Doctors Visit

Take a list of prescription medications, including supplements and vitamins, you are taking with you to the doctor.  This is especially important if it is the first time you are seeing a doctor.  Many people, especially seniors, see more than one doctor.  Each doctor may not have access to all of your records so the more information they have, the more accurately they can prescribe medications.  This will also help them identify any potential drug interactions or adverse side effects.  You may also want to take someone with you to help take notes. Once a year ask your doctor to review everything you are taking including supplements and vitamins.  A good way to remember this is to do it at your annual checkup.

Purchase An Organizer

Buy a pill organizer to keep things on track.  These are small boxes to put your weekly medications in to keep them organized.  They have small compartments that are labeled for 7 days at a time.  Larger ones allow for morning, afternoon, evening and bedtime slots.  It is a great way to stay on top of taking your medications consistently and on time.  These can be purchased at a local drug store or you can order online through Amazon.  Click here to see an example of one on Amazon.

Know the Potential Side Effects That Might Occur

Know the potential side effects or adverse effects of what you are taking.  This will tip you off to health changes that may occur in response to a new medication or combination of medications. If health changes do occur, contact your doctor immediately. Side effects can be from the combination of medications being taken together and can mimic other health issues.  Be sure to follow the directions as indicated by your doctor or pharmacist.  If you have questions or are unsure how to take the medication, be sure to ask.

Sometimes there are alternative medications that might be better suited for a senior.  Click here for a sample list.  This, of course, is the doctor’s decision on what is best for you and your medical history.

Ask Your Doctor or Pharmacist Questions

Knowing how to take your medication is very important.  Some medications may require you to take on an empty or full stomach.  Others might require the elimination of certain supplements, vitamins or foods.  You will want to know what the dosage is and when to take it, proper storage such as refrigeration, or side effects you might experience. Be sure to ask your doctor or pharmacist prior to taking if there are any concerns about the combination of medications or how a new medication might affect you.

Taking your medications correctly will ensure they work effectively and the pharmacist will be able to provide that information.  You should always take your medications as prescribed and never stop taking them without discussing with your doctor.  Doing so could be unsafe as some medications need to be titrated down and may be necessary to keep you healthy.

Be Aware of Medications Deemed Unsafe For Seniors

The Health In Aging put together a list of medications that older adults should avoid or use with caution. Some pose a higher risk of side effects or interactions, while others are simply less effective.  A commonly prescribed sedative in the benzodiazepine category, such as diazepam (Valium) is an example.   These are on the list because seniors may have more sensitivities to these types of drugs.  Ask your doctor if you are concerned about a particular medication.

Something else to consider is to take control of your loved one’s medications if they have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or show signs of confusion.

Health Vantis




Best Medical Travel Company in Canada – How to Choose Yours

When looking for help and expertise in choosing your medical facilitator for a surgery abroad, there are certain criteria that need to be met in evaluating your medical travel or tourism facilitator. It is a very personal decision and one of most importance – to trust someone with your health. We wanted to bring up some factors for you to consider when you email or call a company. This checklist can be used in addition to your specialist or surgeon questions. We covered those in another blog. Best medical travel professionals are the ones that meet all three requirements listed below.


We get it, you are about to expose your health issues and concerns to a total stranger. It is not an easy thing to do. We suggest that you look for a company that offers a free initial consultation and can continue the conversation further. Asking the questions such as why you are passionate about helping people with medical treatments can be an eye-opener. A lot of us got involved in this field because we feel that Canadians should have options in healthcare. Medical care in Canada is free and can be excellent, but the delays in accessibility are a big issue. Most of us have experienced delays or care that was impersonal and inattentive. We faced the issues and we know how you feel – discouraged, frustrated and feeling down.


There have been a lot of press about medical tourists receiving subpar care abroad and coming home only to go back to their doctor with a complication or even worse, to an ER to address the poor outcomes of their surgery abroad. It is hard to say whether or not they were misled by their medical travel agent or their medical travel agent didn’t do their homework. We advise that you call around, google search and reach out to as many people as you know to get some background.

Another good indicator of honesty is price transparency. Are you paying one lump sum and the payment goes to your medical facilitator? If the answer is yes, then you really do not know how much you are paying for your surgery and how much you are paying to your medical facilitator. If your medical travel agent is not disclosing their fees, be cautious.


We are not talking about fancy accreditations here. Since medical tourism is a relatively young and unregulated profession, it will be hard to say which accreditation to trust. Medical Travel Association in the USA delivers a course during their congress and online. It is a good start.

However, if you can ask to talk to others about their experiences that may provide you with even more information about the facilitator. Sometimes it is a challenge to find a client that is willing to speak about their past experiences due to privacy. However, most will have at least one or two references that they can provide for you.

Trying to find a reputable medical facilitator will take some effort on your part. However, once it is done, they can do a lot of time and money saving for you and your health. If you would like to find out more, please give us a call. Your first hour of consultation is always free. Toll-free 1 877 344 3544 or email info@healthvantis.com


Medical Travel Complications Insurance

When traveling out of the country you need to ensure that you and your family are protected in an emergency. Most Canadians have or purchase travel insurance. It covers them for emergency medical situations and trip interruption. So, what is medical travel complications insurance and how it is different from travel insurance? Although travel insurance and medical travel complications insurance may sound similar, those two insurance products are very different. They differ in who uses them, why and what is covered. Here is a little bit of info about both.

Standard Travel, Trip Interruption and Out of Country Medical Travel Insurance Policies

This type of insurance protects travelers for emergency medical issues, such as hospital, medical and paramedical, trip cancellation or interruption, lost or delayed luggage, and accident coverage, such as death or losing a limb. It is widely available and easy to obtain in most cases. Many companies in Canada and the USA offer policies to cover travelers outside of the country, travelers coming to the country and international students.

The main purpose of this insurance is to protect yourself and your family in case something unexpected comes up. Some of the companies also offer additional coverage services in case of a political unrest or natural disaster in the travel destination country. If you have a stable pre-existing condition you may also purchase coverage for an unexpected flare-up of the disease. Otherwise, it is extremely hard to find medical coverage for a disease that is not under control.

If you are traveling to receive medical treatment in another country, this insurance will not cover anything related to complications from your procedure.

Medical Travel and Complications Insurance

You will want to protect yourself in case something goes wrong when you travel outside of your home country for a surgery or medical treatment. All surgeries carry risks and you first should discuss those with your surgeon. Ask them how many cases they had that resulted in a complication or re-admission and why that occurred. It will give you a better idea of how to handle risk for your own surgery.

Even low-risk surgeries are not 100% risk-free. Usually, it is the client receiving treatment who is also responsible for all costs if a complication is to occur. Those costs can be high. Getting a medical complication insurance will provide you with a piece of mind and cost protection. All extra medical expense resulting from a complication will be covered.

It is an added bonus that the companies issuing medical complication insurance are experienced in their field. The will only ensure procedures at a reputable hospital and with a skilled surgeon. We have all heard of horror stories of people receiving bad care while abroad. Your facility will be double vetted – by your medical facilitator and your medical travel complication insurance company.

If you plan to have a surgery outside your home country, give Health Vantis a call and we can help you with obtaining a medical travel and complication insurance. Toll-free 1 877 344 3544 or email info@healthvantis.com

Is It Safe to Have Weight Loss Surgery in Mexico?

We hear questions about medical services in Mexico quite often. How much is it for a gastric sleeve or plastic surgery in Tijuana? Is it safe? Well, the truth is that the answer is a bit more complicated than a simple yes or no.

Bad Medical Outcomes for Surgery Done in Mexico In the News

In the past months, we came across several stories in the news reporting bad outcomes for weight loss surgical procedures done in Tijuana, Mexico. Aside from the benefit of weight loss, the main attraction of those surgeries is their very low prices. Some agents offer prices as low as USD $3599 for a gastric sleeve surgery on their website. This story talks about a lawsuit filed against three doctors in Mexico who performed surgeries that ended badly. Yet the agent that sent the clients to them continues to advertise the same doctor. From this article, we learned the doctor denies any wrongdoings citing that those complaining were bribed.

Safe Weight Loss Surgery

All surgeries carry a risk. Complications in weight loss surgeries have been reported many times and in many countries. Checking and confirming your facility and surgeon credentials and reviews is an absolute must. When we talk to our clients about bariatric surgery we are confident that doctors and facilities we will present them with are accredited by the US or Canadian accreditation body. The surgeons are board certified for bariatric surgery in Canada and the United States. That’s the first and very important step.

In Mexico, The Mexican Council for the Surgery of Obesity and Metabolic Diseases is the official organization to certify a surgeon in bariatrics. If your surgeon is not listed here, he or she is not certified to perform a bariatric surgery.

Continuity of Care

There is usually a specific recovery protocol to any weight loss surgery. A registered dietitian should be on staff to help.  You can eat only specific foods for the first couple of weeks and will be learning how to eat healthy food in moderation. You will need to follow through with this. Reputable surgical weight loss centers usually offer a program to follow. Some have remote patient monitoring to ensure the enduring success of the surgery.

Price matters

Many people that go abroad for a surgery cite that it is not affordable at home. We think differently. If you spend some time researching your home facilities and compare the price, what it includes and the quality of care you will quickly realize that the difference is not worth the risk of going to an unfamiliar culture and place. As an example, at a private facility in Canada, the total price for Laparoscopic Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy performed by a board-certified surgeon has a price of CAD $13,350. It includes 1 day of hospital admission.

Should you stay or should you go?

We are hesitant to give out definite yes or no to our initial question for a number of reasons. One is that our first and foremost commitment to our clients is their safety and a high-quality doctor.  Another is that it is hard to confirm those outside of USA and Canada.  It is because the medical systems are different, training of doctors differs at times, and language and cultural barriers exist to provide full insight. And third is that without those verifications we would not like to pass misleading information or pass judgments on the entire system and all doctors that do surgeries in Mexico.

Your health decisions should come from the knowledge of risks and benefits, feelings of trust and confidence in the doctor. Medical facilitators and medical travel agents should be able to help establish it and maintain contact at all times until you come back home. Health Vantis delivers such white glove service. Give us a try and reach out at toll-free 877 344 3544 or by email info@healthvantis.com

July 2018 Newsletter

Health Vantis Inc

Conversation with Christine Macdonald,

Owens MacFadyen Group Benefits

Christine MacDonald, Benefits Advisor, OMGHappy July everyone! Time to relax and enjoy some outdoor time! Ah, the benefits of summer! Speaking of benefits – our spotlight of the month is on Christine MacDonald, Benefits Advisor with Owens MacFadyen Group (OMG Benefits Inc). Christine has over 25 years of experience working in various consulting roles in the financial services and HR/Recruiting industries.

Since 1995 Owens MacFadyen group has been providing its clients with comprehensive wealth management and benefits and pension consulting. The company excels at helping business owners determine what benefits work best for their employees and business. They assist businesses with 2 employees to over a 1000 employees to attract and retain the talent they need to succeed.

Attractive benefits employees love and use

A lot of times, says Christine, employees do not know they have certain benefits available to them. To address this issue OMG provides a very individual approach to benefits for each plan sponsor. They emphasize that benefits can be highly customizable to fit the needs of employees. As an example, Christine mentioned that many companies are concerned with the wellness of their employees. Many provide a paramedical coverage.  That is a great benefit, but is it used?  If only a small percentage does, perhaps this benefit can be revised to offer something that will benefit a larger group through health spending accounts.  Companies can also offer a wide range of services that may be more relevant to employees;  such as gym memberships, on-site fitness, and yoga classes, nutrition counseling or sponsoring an employee running or soccer team.

The type of drugs that are covered can also be customized in the health coverage. Specialty drugs are driving costs, and they work with clients to find the best solutions. They analyze the types of drugs in plans and offer solutions that may assist in reducing costs. For example, if there are high levels of cardiac drugs, perhaps initiatives around heart health education would be a good idea.   The citation can change, and so should the benefit plan to reflect the diversity and address the needs of the employees.

Christine also talked about Health Spending Accounts (HSA) and their appeal to a wide range of employers and employees. It is because HSA gives choice in healthcare spending and provides reimbursement for a wide range of health-related expenses. Employees decide for themselves what makes sense for their families – eyeglasses, dental bills or physiotherapy. Eligible medical and health expenses are paid in full up to the funded by employer limit – no deductibles or co-payments.

Relationships matter

Christine and her colleagues start with building a relationship with the business owners and key decision makers. Since they work with different size businesses the work gets very detailed and personal, from an employee health and benefits perspective. There are a lot of questions that are asked to determine what fits a company’s offering. Each of the OMG advisers has the support of 2 analysts. That is intentional because to make a sound suggestion for their clients it needs to be backed by data. By providing financial modeling, clients can decide which options are best suited to them based on their own real data.

How OMG supports and saves you money

Once the plan is designed, Christine and her team will be there to support and answer any questions a company owner may have about its benefits. When it is time to renew, OMG is in a strong position to negotiate contracts with a wide range of insurance companies because they collect their client’s data and analyze it to validate a case for their clients.

Christine keeps up with her knowledge of benefits and is always looking for new offerings and solutions so that their clients have the best to keep and attract their employees. She has been hearing a lot about global healthcare and executive health programs.  Many companies, even smaller ones have a presence in different parts of the world and need to design benefits that fit their employees. Christine can help a global company provide their employees in different offices with health benefits coverage.

Access to care has been on her radar as well. Since wait times for certain procedures can be significant, she looks for providers to help clients get what they need quickly.  She is seeing a shift in demand for these services and happy to make recommendations to companies like Health Vantis as a great solution. Christine has some valuable suggestions and solutions and as a trusted advisor her clients rely on her for her advice.

Christine can be reached by phone or email in her Halifax office:

Phone: 902 429 6400

Email: Christine.MacDonald@omg.ca

OMG has offices in Toronto, Halifax, Moncton and Saint John.


July 24 is the International Self-Care Day

It symbolizes the benefits of self-care, 24/7. In 2011 the International Self Care Foundation (ISF) designated this day to promote self-care as a vital foundation of health.

Definition of Self-Care

Since there are many definitions of self-care, it can be confusing as to what to make of this day. How do you take care of yourself every day? There are so many interpretations and personal needs. In order to bring some clarity to the notion, ISF created 7 pillars of self-care.

Seven Pillars of Self-Care

  1. Health literacy – includes: the capacity of individuals to obtain, process and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions
  2. Self-awareness of physical and mental condition – includes: knowing your body mass index (BMI), cholesterol level, blood pressure; engaging in health screening.
  3. Physical activity – practicing moderate-intensity physical activity such as walking, cycling, or participating in sports at a desirable frequency.
  4. Healthy eating – includes: having a nutritious, balanced diet with appropriate levels of calorie intake.
  5. Risk avoidance or mitigation – includes: quitting tobacco, limiting alcohol use, vaccinations, practicing safe sex, using sunscreens.
  6. Good hygiene – includes: washing hands regularly, brushing teeth, washing food.
  7. Rational and responsible use of products, services, diagnostics, and medicines – includes: being aware of dangers, using responsibly when necessary.

What does self-care mean for you?

For people that are healthy and are free of any diseases, self-care is essential to keeping it that way. Watching your diet to maintain a healthy weight, exercising, moderate intake of alcohol are some of the tasks that we should be aware of in order to keep ourselves in good physical and mental health. Knowing when to seek help from a doctor or a specialist is very important as well. Yearly conversations with your primary health care physician should occur to bring up any health concerns and schedule any needed screen tests.

For those that are not so lucky, self-care becomes more complex in a way that the first step is to learn about your condition or disease and what is the right way to take care of yourself. Complex cases are not always clear and doctors do not always have an answer. Getting a second opinion may be an option to consider then. Support groups for your sickness may be a good way to share information as well as get someone who is going through the same thing to listen and provide their insight. As always, we advise you to discuss any treatments with your specialist.

It is no surprise that some of the self-care tasks are easy and some are very hard to follow. For example, smoking cessation can be very hard, but washing your hands is pretty easy.  It is a personal responsibility of every one of us to take care of ourselves.

Self-Care Resources

We put a list of resources to help you learn more and manage your self-care. Feel free to give us some feedback on those as we are always eager to hear from you!

  1. Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic Health Library have a lot of information about different diseases and ailments.
  2. Headspace – a meditation app right on your phone.
  3. LoseIt! – a calorie counting app that lets you track what you eat and informs you what you have left for the day. The app lists many different restaurants and fast food meals. There is also a scanning capability of a new food.
  4. Fooducate – a nutrition app with over 250,000 of different foods. Also lets you track what you had during the day
  5. DailyYoga – great app for those who love yoga. In addition, provides meditation.

If you have a favorite health or fitness app or website please let us know! We love to hear from you! Email us at info@healthvantis.ca or call us toll-free 1 877 344 3544.

Summer Fun Tips

1. Pack Lightly
2. Stay hydrated
3. Protect yourself from the sun
4. Bring board games
5. Be road safe
6. Swim in safe water – check your beach advisories



Clinical Trials

What are clinical trials?

Clinical trials are studies to find out whether the drug is safe and effective for people. It is the end result of many years of research. Research occurs in many places, such as a pharmaceutical company or university labs. A clinical trial takes the development of the discovery to test in a population where it can impact health.  The people who take part in trials are volunteers. They may be patients with a specific disease, or healthy people wanting to contribute to the advancement of medical knowledge.

What is the process for a clinical trial?

It is a long process, often taking 15-17 years between the research and the approval of a drug or medical device or therapy. The goal is to try to introduce new therapies. Clinical trials must be approved by Health Canada in Canada or by FDA in the USA. There are various phases of clinical trials. In both countries, there are 4 phases of clinical trials. Each has its purpose and answers a certain question.

What do I get by participating?

Clinical trials often offer benefits to their participants. Many offer early access to cutting edge treatment that’s not available to others. You may be cured and even if not, your quality of life may improve. In addition, another perk may be access to expert care because of the time spent with the research team.

Sometimes it is hard to find volunteers for clinical trials. It is because many people do not want to be a guinea pig. All clinical trials come with risks. It can be a serious side effect because the effects of the drug are still under investigation. The risks have to be well explained and understood. Every person who participates in a clinical trial must give their informed consent before beginning the trial. Health Canada clinical trial regulations are strict in order to protect people’s health, ensure that the studies are well designed, conducted and monitored, and side effects are reported to Health Canada. All trials have to be reviewed by Research Ethics Board.

Who can participate in clinical studies?

Sometimes the requirements for a clinical trial are very specific. Each trial is different and requires a different number of participants and they have to qualify. After careful screening for age and presence of certain risk factors about 80% of volunteers do not meet the criteria set out in the trial.

Cancer trials are getting smaller and smaller because the researchers are looking for specific genetic markers and/or tumor specifications. Certain types of cancer have the same markers. Cancer clinical trial participants in phase 1 usually get a chance to try a new therapy. A healthy person will never receive cancer drugs. So, the volunteers for those are much different than other over the counter new possible drugs.

In the US, those with cancer that have tried everything suggested by a doctor and not responding to treatment can use the FDA’s expanded access program. If approved, they can reach out to the drug manufacturer and ask to try a drug. FDA approved more than 99% of applications under its expanded program.

What are the success rates for clinical studies?

Hematology or blood-related clinical trials tend to be most successful. Least successful trials are in oncology, which can be very discouraging. Sometimes discoveries never make it to a phase of clinical trial. The large majority of targets will fail before they even reach the early stage of phase 1 of a clinical trial.

It is somewhat easier to test a drug than a therapy or a device because you administer a chemical vs placebo and you observe a certain outcome. In therapies or exercise studies it is a much more subjective question of how a therapy or exercise impacted participants and how many people felt the improvement.

A new study carried out at MIT has found that the likelihood of a drug at Phase I making it all the way to the market is 13.8%

What are the resources for clinical trials?

In conclusion, we list some helpful websites that will be able to provide you with more information about clinical trials and how to access them. As always Health Vantis is happy to help with any questions you may have in regards to access to medical help. Contact us toll free 877 344 3544 or email us at info@healthvantis.com

Canada Health

It Starts With Me

Canadian Cancer Trials