Older couple laughing.


If you are an older adult or have a parent or other loved one who is elderly, you may be concerned about slips and falls. Falls become more common after age 65, and the risk of falling continues to increase with age. However, falls are not actually a normal part of healthy aging, and understanding why falls happen can help you prevent them.


Falls can lead to severe injuries, sprains and strains, and bone fractures, but they can also cause psychological and emotional pain. Falling is a fear of many older adults, even if they have never fallen before. This fear can prevent you or your loved one from doing once-loved activities, running errands, or leaving the home to visit friends and family. Unfortunately, a lack of activity can further lead to a problem with falling and increase the chances of injury.


Luckily, most falls are preventable by maintaining an active lifestyle and taking precautions. Below, we explain the causes of senior falls, how to prevent falls, and what to do if you or a loved one fall.


Read on to learn how to reduce your fall risks or protect someone you know from falling inside or outside their home.



Causes of Senior Falls

There are many causes of falls for seniors that can be physical, environmental, or lifestyle related. Some older adults can experience multiple factors simultaneously, increasing their chances of slips and falls around their homes and when they travel.


Physical risk factors of falls include, but are not limited to:

  • Balance or gait challenges

  • Arthritis

  • Diabetes

  • Chronic pain

  • Memory loss

  • Confusion

  • Difficulty with problem-solving

  • Dehydration

  • Depression

  • Lack of sleep

  • Hearing problems

  • Thyroid issues

  • Muscle weakness

  • Dementia

  • Alzheimer’s

  • Neuropathy (numbness) in the legs and feet

  • Vision limitations

  • …and more


Environmental risk factors for falls can include:

  • Uneven surfaces

  • Clutter on the floor or ground

  • Ice and snow

  • Water on the floor 

  • Incorrect use of walker or cane

  • Loose wires or cables

  • Unsecured carpets or rugs

  • Unlit stairwells or corridors

  • Improper footwear


Lifestyle-related factors for falls, include:

  • Lack of exercise
  • Medications
  • Alcohol consumption



Fall Prevention Tips for Older Adults


Older couple walking in the park.


While not every fall is preventable regardless of your stage of life, many falls can be avoided by addressing the physical, environmental, and lifestyle factors listed above.


Below, we cover fall prevention tips in greater detail.


Talk to Your Doctor

If you have fallen before, you have been feeling unbalanced, or you have a fear of falling, speak with your doctor at your earliest opportunity.


Many physical conditions may cause you to fall or feel like you may fall, and your doctor may be able to prescribe an easy solution. Addressing any health concerns is vital to fall prevention and overall wellness as you age.


Remain Physically Active

Regular physical activity is all part of healthy aging and maintaining your strength and independence.


Find an exercise program that works best for you and stick with it to keep your muscles, bones, joints, ligaments, and tendons working optimally. Staying active can also help reduce fractures, sprains, and strains that can be painful and slow to heal.


Sleep Well, Stay Hydrated, and Eat a Balanced Diet

Falls are more likely to happen when you are tired, dehydrated, or undernourished. You may feel less alert, dizzy, drowsy, or lightheaded if you are not taking care of your body, leading you to fall more often.


If you find it challenging to keep up with sleeping, drinking, and eating enough, talk to your doctor, pharmacist, and loved ones about solutions to support you.


Regularly Have Your Eyes and Ears Examined

Changes in your eyesight and hearing play a more significant role in fall prevention than many realize. This is because we use multiple senses subconsciously when we move throughout the world – especially our eyes and ears. Therefore, be sure to attend your appointments regularly to ensure your eyeglasses and hearing aids always fit your needs.


Invest in Proper Footwear

Wearing high heels, flip flops, or ill-fitting shoes can significantly increase your risk of falls. Be extra mindful of wearing appropriate footwear in the winter or when you could encounter slippery surfaces. Invest in shoes that fit correctly, and only wear them if they have adequate tread.


Use a Cane or Walker, If You Need One

Walking assists can make a big difference in your confidence when moving around your house/yard, running your errands, visiting friends, or going out for your evening walk. Ask your doctor or pharmacist how to choose a cane or walker if you feel you would like to use one.



What to Do If You Fall

Falling or watching a friend or family member fall can be very upsetting and startling. If you have fallen, feeling scared, out of sorts, and even a little embarrassed is normal. If you have watched your loved one fall or they have told you that they keep falling, you may feel sad, helpless, or guilty. All of these feelings are valid and anticipated.


If you fall or someone else falls, you may feel like you want to get up quickly/help the person up right away. However, it is very important to assess the situation before moving. Sometimes, more damage happens when you try to rush.


Below are some tips for what to do if you fall.

  1. Assess the environment. Do not move right away unless you are located somewhere that puts you or others in greater, imminent danger (traffic, sharp objects, fire, flooding, etc.)
  2. Take a deep breath to try to relax and regain your composure
  3. If there are no imminent threats, remain on the ground or floor.
  4. Assess if or how badly you are hurt.
  5. If possible, flag down a stranger or call a family member, neighbour, or 911 to assist you if needed.
  6. If you are able, slowly move to a seated or kneeling position. Do not stand up right away. Your blood pressure needs time to adjust.
  7. When ready, crawl to a sturdy chair or another surface where you can sit.
  8. Slowly lift yourself up onto the chair or other sitting surface.
  9. Sit for as long as you need.
  10. Seek emergency medical attention if needed or clean any scrapes and scratches.

After you have a fall, you may be tempted not to tell your children, spouse, or other family and friends. However, it is important to ensure that your loved ones know you had a fall so they can support you emotionally and physically.


As many of the risk factors for falls are physical, it is highly recommended that you also book a check-up with your doctor. Your doctor can make recommendations to help you avoid falls and serious injuries in the future.


If you take medications, your pharmacist will also want to know if you had a fall. This is particularly important if you recently started a new medication and you have been having issues with your balance or eyesight or feeling dizzy, lightheaded, or drowsy.




Falling can be startling, scary, and emotionally and physically painful. Many older adults fear falling, even if they have never had a fall before. Loved ones of older adults also often worry about their aging parent or grandparent having a fall injury. This fear can prevent seniors from doing things they once enjoyed and can lead to loss of independence and isolation.


There are many physical, environmental, and lifestyle-related factors that can increase an older adult's risk of falling inside and outside the home. Many of these risk factors can be addressed under the care of a family physician or with guidance from your local pharmacist.


It is important to ensure that you/your loved one remain physically active, receive treatment for any health conditions, maintain regular eye and ear exam appointments, have suitable footwear, and use a walker or cane if needed. It is also critical to check with your pharmacist if you think your medications may be impacting you negatively.


If you do fall or need to assist someone who has fallen, it is critical not to rush to get up. Instead, take a breath, compose your thoughts, and then evaluate if you/the person you are assisting is injured. Getting up slow is important, as blood pressure needs time to adjust after a fall. Seek help or urgent medical attention if needed, let a loved one know about the fall, and book an appointment with your doctor for a check-in and fall prevention resources. Your pharmacist may also be able to offer support while you wait for your doctor’s appointment.



Talk to Cook’s Pharmacy About Fall Prevention


Older couple going for a walk.


A local pharmacy like Cook’s Pharmacy may have fall prevention resources and guidance available to you or your loved one. Alternatively, a pharmacist near you can point you in the right direction for where to find more information or support in your region.


Your pharmacist can also review your/your loved one’s medications if you/they are experiencing side effects that increase the risk of falls.



Have you or your loved one fallen recently? Reach out to Cook’s Pharmacy in Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge, New Hamburg, or Wellesley.

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Family walking together through pumpkin patch.


As the summer days get cooler and you start prepping to get your kids ready for back to school, you may also be getting excited about all the autumn season brings. While we look forward to warm sweaters, corn mazes, and pumpkin patches, the fall is also a time that we see many common illnesses peak.


Common autumn illnesses include:


While none of the autumn illnesses above are pleasant to experience, there are many ways you can prevent and treat them. Below, we cover the signs and symptoms of each as well as how your local pharmacy can help you or your loved ones get some relief if fall illnesses strike you.



Fall Allergies

While the spring season is commonly known as primary allergy season, many people are also affected by allergies in the fall. For example, dust and mould allergies often peak when space heaters and furnaces start to come on at your home, school, or work. Ragweed allergens are also abundant, causing discomfort to all affected by the pollen.


Symptoms of fall allergies include:

  • Runny nose or nasal congestion

  • Watery and itchy eyes

  • Sore or itchy throat

  • Coughing or sneezing

  • Headache

  • Fatigue 


Ways to reduce fall allergies:

  • Keep an eye on the pollen forecast and air quality forecast in your city or town

  • Close your windows during peak ragweed season

  • Clean or replace filters in your HVAC before using the heat

  • Shower after spending time outside (pollen is light and can travel far)

  • Keep surfaces in your home and car clean


How to treat allergies at home:

Talk to a pharmacist near you about how to treat allergies at home with budget-friendly nasal sprays, antihistamines, decongestants, and eye drops. Likely, your pharmacist can suggest a low-cost, over-the-counter medication to provide you with allergy relief.


However, if your condition does not improve after taking medication or if it worsens over time, make an appointment with your doctor.



Common Cold

As the kids get back to school with their friends and play dates and family gatherings start to move indoors, catching a common cold in the fall is usually – well, common.


While having a cold (or a house full of sick people) is never ideal, symptoms are typically mild and will resolve within a week.


Symptoms of the common cold include:

  • Cough

  • Sneezing

  • Sore throat

  • Nasal congestion

  • Mild headache or body ache


Prevention of the common cold:

Of course, you can’t always avoid getting a cold – especially when you live with little ones who want to touch your face with dirty, sticky hands after touching everything else. Or when someone at work or school decided to “push through their cold” instead of staying home.


However, you can:

  • Keep your distance from people who have symptoms of a cold

  • Wash your hands well with soap and water

  • Avoiding touching your face and mouth

  • Maintain your immune system (eat well, sleep, reduce stress)

  • Increase rest and fluids as soon as your feel the first signs of a bug


At-home treatment for the common cold:

As the common cold is a viral infection, rest and fluids are the best medicine. However, over-the-counter pain medications may also help you or your loved ones manage the unpleasant symptoms, particularly your sore throats, headaches, and mild body aches.


Father hugging sick child.


Talk to your local pharmacist about what they recommend for you or your children.




Flu (influenza) can circulate at any time of the year, but the viruses thrive in the colder, drier weather we experience in the fall and winter seasons. Therefore, influenza activity begins to increase in October and peaks between December and February.


If you have ever had the flu, you know it tends to be more significant than a common cold. Flu symptoms can range from mild to severe and often come on quickly.


Symptoms of the flu include:

  • Fever or chills
  • Muscle and body aches
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Vomiting or diarrhea (more common for children than adults)


How long are you contagious with the flu?

Generally, adults with the flu are most contagious for the first three to four days after their symptoms begin. However, influenza can be spread beginning one day before symptoms show, and an adult can remain contagious for up to five to seven days. Children and people with compromised immune systems may remain contagious longer than seven days.


How to prevent the flu?

The best way to protect yourself and your family from influenza is by getting your flu shot each year. The flu vaccine can lessen flu-related illnesses and reduce the risk of serious flu complications. Talk to your local pharmacy about when and how to get your flu shot.


In addition to vaccination, keep your distance from others showing signs of influenza. Wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your face or mouth. Also, be sure to keep high-touch surfaces and electronic devices clean.


How to prevent the spread of the flu?

If you do catch the flu, be sure to cover your sneezes and coughs and avoid contact with others – especially people who are elderly, pregnant, or immunocompromised. Extra care should also be taken to reduce contact with children under five. In addition, keep your hands clean, and wear a mask if you must leave your home while you are sick.


How to treat the flu at home?

While influenza can lead to other illnesses, hospitalization, and even death, flu often resolves itself without treatment. So, the best thing you can do is prioritize self-care. Drink water, eat nutritious food, rest, and practice good hygiene.


Your local pharmacist can suggest antihistamines and cough suppressants that may help ease flu symptoms. However, if your symptoms become severe, talk to your doctor or seek emergency care.



Ear Infections

Acute ear infections often occur in the fall and are most common in children under five. Ear infections are caused by an inflammation or virus within the inner ear or the nerves of the inner ear. Infections of the ear can be viral or bacterial, but bacterial ear infections are most common. They can sometimes result from allergies, the common cold, or influenza.


Symptoms of ear infections:

  • Ear pain
  • Loss of hearing in the affected ear
  • Tenderness to the touch
  • Fullness in the ear
  • Dizziness
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting


Treatment for ear infections:

If you think you have an ear infection or your child is complaining of the symptoms above, it is highly recommended that you make an appointment with your doctor or drop into a walk-in clinic. Ear infections can become very painful, and it is best to seek treatment if symptoms do not resolve on their own after a few days.


Your doctor may prescribe steroids, antivirals, antibiotics, antiemetics, and/or antihistamines to you or your child, depending on your unique situation. In many cases, rest, fluids, a well-balanced diet, and patience is all you need. Regardless, your local pharmacist can provide instructions on taking your prescription or help you find an over-the-counter solution to ease symptoms.





Family running outside.


Autumn is a time many of us look forward to each year, but the fall season brings the resurgence of many common illnesses like allergies, colds, flu, and ear infections. While these fall illnesses are unpleasant – especially when they spread through your entire household at once – they are often treatable at home under the advisement of your local pharmacist.


Ragweed, mould, and dust allergies peak in the fall when pollen and other allergens are circulating. Keeping an eye on your pollen and air quality reports and adjusting your daily activities accordingly can help reduce the impact of cooler weather allergies. Also, keep your space heaters and HVAC system clean, as they can be culprits of dust and mould spores at home, work, or school. Finally, chat with your pharmacist about over-the-counter solutions to ease your fall allergy symptoms.


Catching a common cold can feel inevitable, especially if you have children in school or work in a high-density job where you can't avoid contact with others. Luckily, colds are often mild and resolve on their own. That does not make them any less inconvenient or unpleasant, though. So, take care of yourself with rest and fluids, and ask your pharmacist for over-the-counter medications to ease coughs, sore throats, and headaches.


The flu can come on quickly and have mild to severe symptoms. Take precautions during flu season by getting your flu shot and keeping your hands and devices clean. Stay away from other people if you are sick, and talk to your doctor if your symptoms escalate significantly.


Ear infections are a common illness that young children may experience in the fall season. They may be bacterial or viral and can result from allergies, common cold, and flu. Talk to your pharmacist about how to relieve painful earaches, and see your doctor if symptoms do not go away after a few days.



Feeling Sick This Fall? Find Relief at Cook’s Pharmacy!


As always, our team at Cook’s Pharmacy is here to help you and your family feel better. Stop by our Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge, New Hamburg, and Wellesley pharmacies, or reach out to us!


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How to Choose a Pharmacy

Pharmacist helping a customer.


Choosing a local pharmacy in the Kitchener-Waterloo region often comes down to convenience and proximity to your home. However, there are many more factors to consider while searching for your perfect pharmacy fit.


First and foremost, you should trust your local pharmacist and feel comfortable speaking openly and honestly with them about your prescription and non-prescription needs. You also want to ensure that the operating hours suit your personal and work schedule and that you receive the quality of service you expect from your local pharmacist. Other considerations relate to your drug plan and the availability of pharmacy services such as compounding and consultative services.


Below, we cover all the factors to consider before choosing a pharmacy near you in the K-W.


Questions to consider include:



Is Your Local Pharmacy Legitimate and Licensed?

With online pharmacies gaining popularity across the country, cases of fraud are on the rise. While any physical pharmacy is likely operating legally, it is essential to note that all legitimate pharmacies are licensed under the jurisdiction of the province or territory in which they operate.


Each province/territory has regulatory authorities that are members of the National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities (NAPRA). These provincial authorities then work to regulate both the practice of pharmacy and the operations of pharmacies.


Always use extra caution when exploring online pharmacies, and be sure to verify that they are registered with a province before you provide any personal information or make a purchase.



Do the Operating Hours of Your Pharmacy Work for You?

Similar to how the physical location of a local pharmacy is a primary consideration, the operating hours of your pharmacist are often another significant factor when considering pharmacy options in your area.


If you are working full-time, trying to care for an elderly parent, or you have a house full of children, you are undoubtedly limited on when you can make your way to a pharmacy. Therefore, you will want to find a pharmacy that works well with your schedule and can support you when it is most convenient for you.



Are the Pharmacy Staff Helpful and Friendly?


Pharmacist helping a customer.


How you jive with your pharmacist and their team can also make all the difference. There is nothing more personal than your health, so you should feel completely comfortable speaking openly and honestly with the professionals who help you fulfill your prescription and non-prescription needs.


In addition, you should feel that your local pharmacist has your best interest in mind, takes care in understanding your personal health history, and does not mind spending a few extra minutes with you when you have questions.


An ideal pharmacist for you may also be able to offer suggestions about how you can save money on your prescriptions by choosing non-generic or similar drugs.



Is There a Space for You to Speak Privately?

Your health and the health of your loved ones is a confidential matter, and you likely prefer to have a private space to speak candidly with your pharmacist. Many pharmacies have dedicated spaces where you can enjoy a higher degree of privacy, so never be shy to ask to move to that area to ask your questions or discuss your health.



Is Filling Your Prescriptions Easy?


Pharmacist handing a customer their perscription.


Receiving your medications quickly and hassle-free is another crucial factor when choosing a local pharmacy. For example, your pharmacist should be able to fill your prescriptions promptly every time.


If you often find that wait times to fill your prescription are very long, or your pharmacy is often out of the medications you require, it is likely time to seek a different pharmacy.


Of course, there may be one-off situations that can be inconvenient, but if you notice a trend of poor service, consider seeking pharmacy services elsewhere.



Does Your Pharmacy Offer a Variety of Services?

While local pharmacies are most well-known for fulfilling prescriptions and providing support regarding over-the-counter medications and products, pharmacists can offer many other services too.


Seek out pharmacies that offer compounding and other consultative services such as:

  • Diabetic counselling

  • Weight loss management programs

  • Compression stockings

  • Travel health consultations

  • Respiratory counselling

  • INR management

  • …and more!


Pharmacies can often support you in more ways than you thought and, in some cases, could save you a trip to a walk-in clinic or the doctor's office. Ask your local pharmacy what they can offer to support your unique health concerns.



Does Your Pharmacy Accept Your Health Benefits Plan?

Prescriptions can be costly, especially if you have multiple family members who require long-term or pricey medications. However, having a health benefits plan can help offset the out-of-pocket costs you need to incur. Your benefits may also give you access to cheaper dispensing fees, so it is essential to consider which pharmacy is most compatible with your coverage plan.


All benefits plans typically allow you to submit receipts for items or services covered under your plan. Still, it is much more convenient if your pharmacist can bill your benefits provider directly. This seemingly small factor can ultimately take up a lot of your time, particularly if you manually submit receipts for each family member.


Before committing to a pharmacist, drop-in or call them to ask how your health benefits plan will work at their pharmacy. These small steps can ultimately save you some time and hassle later. It could even save you money if you often forget to submit health benefit claims manually.



Is Pharmacy Delivery Available?

Even if you enjoy making a trip to your local pharmacy to pick up your prescriptions, there are some days you may not feel up to going in. For example, life may get busy, or you may be feeling unwell. Therefore, seek a pharmacy that offers delivery service for free or for a small fee. You never know when it may be a very significant perk!




While many people often only consider the location of their pharmacist in the Kitchener-Waterloo region, there are multiple other factors to think about before selecting a local pharmacy.


Your pharmacy should be licensed, legitimate, and acting under regulations set and enforced by the province. Beware of online pharmacies, do your due diligence, and listen to your gut if something feels off.


The pharmacy you choose should also offer operating hours that suit your busy schedule. With an abundance of pharmacy options to choose from, you should never feel you need to leave work or sacrifice other commitments to be able to fill your prescriptions.


As your health is a deeply personal matter, you should feel comfortable speaking with your local pharmacist. Your pharmacist should be patient, helpful, and friendly. You may also value your pharmacist's ability to offer suggestions that will save you time and money. Also, seek out a pharmacy that values your expectation of privacy and has a quiet area where you can ask questions and have discussions.


At the end of the day, your primary goal when working with a local pharmacy is filling or refilling your prescriptions. Therefore, seek a pharmacy that can promptly provide you with your prescription and non-prescription medication needs. If you are not satisfied with a service, do not hesitate to take your business elsewhere.


You may also be surprised to know that your pharmacist can support you in various ways. From medication compounding to diabetes counseling to travel health consultations, pharmacies offer much more than you likely realized!


Lastly, your health benefits plan may play a more significant role in your pharmacy decision than expected. Seek out a pharmacy that can directly bill your insurance, and pay attention to whether or not your benefits provider impacts how much you pay for dispensing fees. All pharmacies set their dispensing fees, so always shop around. Be sure to ask about prescription delivery services too!


As you can see, there are so many more factors in choosing a pharmacy than location alone! Asking yourself the questions above can help you find a pharmacy you trust with your health and your family's health.



Consider Choosing Cook’s Pharmacy


Pharmacist woman smiling.


If you are seeking a local, family-owned pharmacy that you can trust with your prescription and non-prescription needs, consider Cook's Pharmacy. Our skilled team of pharmacists is ready to ensure you and your loved ones receive fast, reliable, and trustworthy service every time.


We are pleased to offer robust pharmacy services in Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge, North Dumfries, and Wellesley. Ask us about prescriptions, medication compounding, travel health consultations, diabetic counselling, INR counselling, weight loss programs, and more! Cook's Pharmacy is more than a local pharmacy near you!



Reach out to us to learn more about how we can meet your family’s health needs.





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As the weather gets warmer, you may be starting to think about your plan for spring cleaning. Of course, your garage and closets are likely on the to-do list, but have you also thought about cleaning out your medicine cabinet? Your medicine cabinet often gets forgotten and can accumulate old over-the-counter pain medications, cough syrups, ointments, and drops in addition to prescription medications. For that reason, it is a good idea to check the inventory in your medicine cabinet at least once per year and dispose of old, expired, or unneeded medications.


Below, we share tips about what to consider when decluttering your medicine cabinet and making room for fresh stock. In addition, we cover how your local pharmacy can help you at various stages of the process such as confirming your prescriptions, replacing older medications, and disposing of anything you no longer need.



Why Clean Your Medicine Cabinet


Cleaning out your medicine cabinet can help you get rid of clutter, and it has other benefits too. First and foremost, it helps you ensure that you have all the medications and products you and your family need. Running to the store can be very inconvenient when someone in your family is unwell, so it is important to ensure you have an adequate supply of medications and treatments that are not expired. From rubbing alcohol to allergy medications to prescriptions for ongoing health concerns, you'll always feel better knowing that you are well-stocked.


Inventorying your medicine cabinet can also help you dispose of unneeded prescription medications. Removing any unnecessary medications is beneficial for preventing you or someone in your family from (intentionally or unintentionally) consuming drugs they do not need. Whether you had surgery last year, your prescription has changed, or your doctor has indicated that you no longer require a particular drug, it is highly advised not to hold onto any medications that are not necessary.


No matter what prompts you to give your medicine cabinet a quick once-over, you'll undoubtedly be glad you did! You will know what you have, what you need to refresh, and what can be disposed of safely - all in addition to having a neat, tidy, and organized cabinet that is clutter-free!





Working With Your Pharmacist to Review Your List of Medications


If you take multiple medications regularly or your/your children's prescriptions have changed over the years, speaking with your pharmacist is highly recommended before you start cleaning out your medicine cabinet. If you have not gone through your supply cabinet in a while, you may find it difficult to remember who takes what or what dosage is the most current. For that reason, ask your pharmacist to provide you with a list of all your family members' current medications.


When cleaning your medicine cabinet, use the list from your pharmacist to cross-reference your inventory and make a note of which prescriptions are running low, expired, or no longer needed. This process will give you more confidence about what should stay and go.


If you provide care to an elderly or disabled loved one outside your home, be sure to work with their pharmacist as well before doing any spring cleaning.



Examining Over the Counter and Prescription Medications


When cleaning up your medicine cabinet, be sure to look at all prescriptions, products, and vitamins. Check their expiry dates first. If they are expired, set them aside, dispose of them at your local Cook’s Pharmacy, and get more while you are there.


Next, examine the appearance, smell, and texture of all medications, products, and vitamins even if they are still within their use by or expiry date. If something looks, smells, or feels off, it likely is. If there is anything you are unsure of, set it aside and either bring it to your pharmacist for clarification or dispose of it.


You may also come upon containers that no longer have labels. These products and prescriptions can be disposed of, as you do not want to risk using an expired or unclear medication. When in doubt, bring any unmarked medicines to your pharmacist for proper disposal.





Combining Multiple Containers of Medications or Products


When cleaning your medicine cabinet, you may come across multiple bottles of what appears to be the same medication or product. While it may be tempting to combine bottles or containers to free up even more space, this practice is strongly discouraged – particularly if your prescriptions or products have different expiry dates or your dosage has increased or decreased over time.


Combining products can result in you or your family members using products that have inaccurate information on the bottle. These inaccuracies may be related to the dosage, expiry date, instructions, or who the medication belongs to. Consuming medicines that are not intended for you can be very dangerous, and drugs that have lost their potency may not adequately support your health concerns. For these reasons, always keep all prescriptions and products in their original containers to eliminate any confusion, mishaps, or adverse health outcomes.


If you have older unused prescriptions, work with your local pharmacy to refresh them. It is always better to get new ones, than to take old ones that may no longer be completely viable.



How Long Do Medications Last?


Generally, most over-the-counter medications are fully viable within one year of your purchase. This one-year rule applies to solid medications (capsules, tablets, soft gels), liquid medications (syrups), and creams/ointments that are in a tube. Ointments and creams with twist-off top containers should be disposed of and replaced after 90 days of opening, as they are more likely to get contaminated than the ones in tubes.


Like open container creams, all eye medications (ointments or liquid drops) have a higher risk of contamination and are viable for much less time than other prescriptions and products. Eye drops and creams should only be used or disposed of within 30 days of opening. These types of eye treatments are typically inexpensive and worth disposing of if you have had them open for more than one month. You do not want to ever risk worsening an eye ailment or causing an infection from older eye medications – especially for a product than can be easily replaced.


Prescription medications in containers or blister packs should clearly indicate when their contents expire. If you can no longer see the expiration date on an item, set it aside and take it to your local pharmacist. Expired prescriptions may no longer be as effective in treating your health concerns and should not be used unless you are 100% certain they have not exceeded their shelf life. Your pharmacist will be happy to review the prescription and refresh it if needed.



Evaluating the Location of Your Medicine Cabinet


If you notice that many of your products are looking off or are no longer working as well as they use to, it may be time to change up the location of your medicine cabinet.


Many people store their medications and products in their bathroom, but this is never advisable. Bathrooms are exposed to higher temperatures and humidity levels from the shower, impacting the viability of medications and products. For this reason, consider if you have an alternate location in your home that is cool, dry, and dark. This ideal environment will help your medications and products last longer and give you more confidence that all of your prescriptions will maintain their original potency.


When relocating your medicine cabinet, ensure that children, pets, and guests cannot easily access the new location - especially if you have been prescribed narcotics. A top shelf of your closet or a dresser drawer in your bedroom may be suitable options depending on your unique situation.



Disposing of Unneeded or Expired Medications


Correctly and safely disposing of medications is critical, as it can be very damaging or dangerous to flush them or throw them out. Flushing medications down a drain is never advisable, as it can result in wastewater and environmental challenges. Some medicines may be safe to dump or flush but should only be done after your pharmacy has advised that it is safe to do so.


Throwing medications in the trash can also be dangerous, especially if you have removed pills from their child-proof containers or live in an area where people or animals have access to your garbage cans. Curious little hands, pets, wildlife, and even strangers can come across pills or products not intended for them, so always be sure to work with your pharmacist to dispose of everything correctly and safely.



How Do Pharmacists Dispose of Prescriptions


Pharmacies are trained to dispose of all medications correctly and are required to follow all provincial and national public health, environmental, and privacy regulations in your region. In alignment with these regulations, your pharmacist will ensure that none of your personal information remains on your disposed prescriptions. In addition, they will keep an accurate record of all returned medications, store them in a secure location, and arrange to dispose of everything in a highly regulated manner. Therefore, working with your pharmacist is much safer overall than holding onto old or unneeded drugs or trying to dispose of them yourself.



Consult Cook’s Pharmacy


If you would like support in cleaning out your medicine cabinet, confirming your family's prescriptions, understanding product longevity, refreshing your medications, or disposing of your old and unneeded pills, syrups, and creams, Cook’s Pharmacy is here to help!

Our knowledgeable and helpful pharmacists can provide the guidance you need to feel confident in your decisions and ensure you have exactly what you need to take care of yourself and your family. We proudly offer pharmacy services in Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge, North Dumfries, and Wellesley.


Reach out to us today for all your pharmacy needs!

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As the days get colder and we all hunker down until spring, many Canadians dream of drinking pina coladas on a beach and exploring warmer countries. Thanks to vaccines, we can finally start thinking (with some due caution) about tropical islands, bucket list vacations, and inter-provincial visits to friends and family once again. While we are not out of the woods yet with COVID, higher vaccination rates worldwide are helping us get closer to enjoying our pre-pandemic non-essential pleasures.


If you are making plans to travel to the tropics, explore the United States, fly across the pond, book a cruise, or take a trip to another province, you may be feeling overwhelmed with the amount of information available regarding COVID. No matter where you decide to go on your family's next adventure, there are rules to follow for proof of vaccination, COVID PCR testing, and waiting periods/quarantines that can be a bit tricky to navigate.


Below, we simplify everything you need to know before confirming your travel plans.


Disclaimer: Public health guidance from local, provincial, national, and global public health authorities may change frequently. Please monitor the official communication from these public health departments/organizations at home and internationally before you book your trip. These sources will provide the most up-to-date information.



Before You Select Your Destination


Even when we are not experiencing a global pandemic, it is wise to refer to the Government of Canada Travel Advice and Advisories resource before making any travel plans. The online travel advice and advisory tool will show you safety and security conditions, entry and exit rules, local laws, health hazards/restrictions, climate information, and where to find help when you are travelling.


The tool lists all the countries and is very easy to navigate. It is updated regularly and will show you if you should avoid all travel or exercise a high degree of caution due to COVID or other factors in the region.


Be sure to check the advisory before you book your travel and right before you leave so you do not have any surprises.



Travelling Outside Canada


Before you board a train or plane in Canada, you will need to provide proof of full vaccination no matter where you are going. In addition, depending on which country you are travelling to and the state of the pandemic in that region at the time, there may be requirements you must adhere to gain entry to a country outside Canada. These additional requirements may include proof of a negative COVID test or mandatory quarantine for a certain number of days. 


For trips to the United States, for example, all airline passengers ages two years and older, regardless of vaccination status, must provide a negative COVID test taken within one calendar day of travel.  Alternatively, travelers may provide documentation from a licensed health care provider of having recovered from COVID-19 in the 90 days before travel.


For trips to Cuba - a favourite of many Canadians looking to get away during the winter - you will need to provide proof of full vaccination and complete a health declaration before you arrive. You do not need to provide a negative PCR test, but you may need to complete one in an airport if you exhibit any signs of COVID.


As you can see, all countries will be different, and COVID requirements for entry can change at any time. Be sure to do your own research for the country you are travelling to, so you know what is required. Monitor the situation in the country as the date of your departure nears.



Thinking of Taking a Cruise Outside Canada?


Many people dream of booking a cruise, and it's tempting to want to soak up the sun and activities view a view of the ocean this time of year. However, the Government of Canada currently discourages all travel on cruise ships outside of Canada due to the risk of COVID outbreaks aboard the large, populated vessels. There is also a risk of passengers becoming subject to quarantine procedures onboard the ship or in a foreign country.


If you book a cruise outside of Canada despite the advisory and an outbreak occurs, support from the Canadian consulate will be limited. You will also be unable to return to Canada on a public flight for 14 days. This situation could leave you in a different country paying for steep medical expenses, accommodations, and basic essentials out of pocket.


If you love cruises, consider taking one within Canada in 2022 instead. For more information about cruises within Canada and abroad, click here.





Returning to Canada


No matter where your adventures take you, all travellers (Canadian citizens and permanent residents included) must register their return to Canada through the ArriveCAN app. Failing to register your return home can cause delays for boarding your flight, train, or ship. You could also experience challenges at the Canadian border or be required to quarantine if you do not register your travel in advance. For that reason, registering your return through ArriveCAN is essential no matter where or how you choose to travel.


If you are a fully vaccinated Canadian, permanent resident, or someone with status under the Indian Act re-entering Canada, you will not need to provide a negative PCR test if you have been outside Canada for less than 72 hours. However, if you are gone for more than 72 hours, a negative PCR test is required OR proof of a previous positive test result taken between 14 and 180 days ago. You will still need to register your return home and provide proof of full vaccination.


If you are travelling with children who are not yet eligible for full vaccination or who are partially vaccinated, they will be required to complete a pre-entry, arrival, and day-8 PCR test unless they have proof of a positive PRC test taken 14 to 180 days prior to their return to Canada. Unvaccinated and partially vaccinated children will also need to stay home from school, daycare, and extracurricular activities for 14 days. They will also need to avoid all close contact with others.


This is a very significant consideration for parents and guardians. For the full requirements for unvaccinated children and how parents and guardians are also affected, click here.



Travelling Within Canada by Train or Plane


If you find the international travel requirements overwhelming or you prefer to stay closer to home for your vacation, you will still need to follow some rules while travelling within your home country. These rules may be updated at any time, but they are currently outlined as follows on the Government of Canada references.

As of November 29, 2021, proof of full vaccination is required for all passengers 12 years plus four months or older. Vaccinations must be the “accepted vaccines” in Canada and be received at least 14 days before your trip.


To qualify as fully vaccinated in Canada, you must be able to provide proof of at least two doses of the accepted vaccines, a mix of two accepted vaccines, or at least one dose of the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine.


Proof of vaccination can be requested at any time during your travel on public planes or trains within Canada. You also cannot board if you have any symptoms of COVID. Masks will be required onboard, and you may be selected for a random PCR test at airports.


If you qualify as fully vaccinated, a COVID test (PCR test) is not required to board a train or plane. If you are not fully vaccinated, negative PCR or other approved molecular tests are no longer accepted as an alternative to vaccination.


A negative PCR test will only be accepted as an alternative to full vaccination in very limited circumstances. To see the list of exemptions, click here. Most of these exceptions require proof of a negative PCR test taken no more than 72 hours before boarding a public train or plane.



Travelling to Other Provinces by Car


Currently, travel within Canada by car is very flexible for fully vaccinated travellers. However, some provinces require all travellers to register their visit, regardless of vaccination status. In most provinces, unvaccinated individuals must quarantine for a certain period of time or until they can provide a negative PCR test.


Unvaccinated travellers who are eligible for the vaccines will find that options for entertainment and dining are very limited in most provinces. To dine-in at a restaurant, see a movie, go to a nightclub, or attend an event, proof of full vaccination is required. Some establishments in Alberta may currently accept a negative PRC test for entry into non-essential venues, but this is not the norm across Canada.





Book Your PCR Test in Kitchener-Waterloo


If you are planning to take a trip outside Canada and a negative PCR test is required for entry into your destination, Cook’s Pharmacy has locations in Cambridge, Kitchener, Waterloo, New Hamburg, and Wellesley ready to meet your COVID testing needs! We can also provide PCR testing upon your return if it is required for your children or if you would feel safer double-checking that everyone in your family is COVID-free.


At Cook’s Pharmacy, we are also pleased to provide travel health consultation to help you ensure you have all your vaccination bases covered before you and your family head out on your next adventure.


Schedule your appointment or learn more about our PCR tests for travel at

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Mother giving her child medication



Being a parent or guardian can be challenging, especially during the days of remote learning, cancelled activities, and being stuck inside the house. The job of a parent or guardian is even more demanding when your child is sick or has ongoing health challenges that require daily medications – yet another daunting task that most likely falls solely to you.


If you have ever tried to give medication to a child – especially a very young one – you know it can often be a battle. For example, many children are picky about the taste, smell, size, or appearance of their medicine, making it difficult to convince them to consume it at all. For other children, issues with swallowing, allergies, below-average weight, or sensory challenges may further complicate your ability to administer the correct dose of standardized medications.


No matter what reason makes it difficult, there is an easy solution to reduce stress for both you and your child – compounding pharmacies! Compounding pharmacies work with you to create alternate delivery methods of medications that better suit your child’s unique needs.


Below, we explain the many ways compounding pharmacy services can help make your day-to-day life just a little bit easier.



What is a Compounding Pharmacy?


Compounding pharmacies create customized medications personalized to the unique needs of children, adults, and even pets. Essentially, compounding pharmacies take prescribed or over-the-counter drugs and adapt them. As a result, your pharmacist can utilize tools and technologies to change the size, colour, flavour, and consistency without impacting the medicinal quality or overall effectiveness of a medication.


Compounding pharmacies exist because some standardized or mass-produced medications simply do not match the needs of every consumer. Therefore, compounding allows pharmacies to fill a gap for people and pets who require modifications to their medicine to consume it successfully.



Why Use a Compounding Pharmacy?


There are many reasons why compounding pharmacies are popular for parents with children who struggle with standardized or mass-produced medications.


Standardized medications may:

  • Provide a dose that is too high for your child’s current weight, resulting in your trying to separate pills or measure doses on your own at home.

  • Only be available with an unappealing in taste or texture.

  • Be difficult to swallow.

  • Cause distress for children with sensory challenges.

  • Contain ingredients that your child is allergic or sensitive to.


As a parent, we know that you simply want to ensure that your child has exactly what they need to recover from temporary illness or manage an ongoing condition. Trying to navigate prescriptions that don't suit your child's needs can be challenging, but a compounding pharmacy, like Cook’s Pharmacy, can help take away the guesswork and stress. In addition, utilizing a compounding pharmacy can help you give medications with greater confidence and peace of mind.


Below, we explain how a compounding pharmacy can address specific needs that may exist in your household.  





Pills That Exceed Your Child’s Dosage Needs


Have you ever been asked to cut pills in half to ensure that your child does not receive a dose too high for their current weight? Have you worried that you were not separating medications accurately or that your child would get too much one day and not enough the next? This uncertainty is a common concern for parents tasked with splitting pills at home.


A compounding pharmacy can make each capsule or tablet smaller so you can rest assured that each dose contains the correct amount of your child’s prescribed or over-the-counter medication.


Unappealing Flavours or Textures


Pharmaceutical producers do their best to make medications for children as delicious as possible, but not every formula has an ideal flavour or texture. If your child is hesitant to take their medicine because they do not enjoy the taste, a compounding pharmacy can work with you to add more desirable flavouring or find a different delivery method.


Your compounding pharmacy may even have the capacity to change the appearance of pills to make them more fun for kids. For example, ask for your child's favourite colour to help make taking medicine slightly more enjoyable.


Difficult to Swallow


If your child has difficulty swallowing larger pills without chewing them, or they experience challenges with swallowing in general, a compounding pharmacy can help by adjusting the size of the pills or finding another solution that suits your child’s needs and abilities. Lollipops, chewable gummies, creams, syrups, suppositories, and drinks are just some alternate options that may help address issues with swallowing. Ask your compounding pharmacy to go over all available options with you.


Cause Sensory Overload


Children with mental health or sensory challenges may be very sensitive to factors such as size, colour, and texture. Certain times of day may also be better than others for delivering medication, which may not always align with prescribed intervals. At a compounding pharmacy, alternate options exist to ensure your child receives the correct dose each day without causing unnecessary distress.


Ingredients That Cause Allergic Reactions or Sensitivities


Many children have special dietary needs due to allergies to milk products, corn, nuts, specific proteins, gluten, and certain dyes. Therefore, it is very common for a compounding pharmacy to work with parents to ensure over-the-counter and prescription medications are free of ingredients that can cause irritation or upset.


Speak with a member of our compounding pharmacy team to get advice on handling any type of dietary restrictions or allergies.





How a Compounding Pharmacy Can Help You Organize Multiple Daily Pills


If your child takes multiple medications each day, you may have noticed many have a similar look. This lack of apparent differentiation can cause you to feel nervous about keeping track of which pill is which. A compounding pharmacy can help modify the appearance of some or all your child's prescriptions by changing the size or colour. This small change can increase your confidence when administering pills and make the process more enjoyable if you choose your child's favourite colors.


Your compounding pharmacist may also be able to combine multiple medications into a single delivery method to reduce the number of individual medications your child needs to take each day. Your pharmacist will know which drugs can be combined safely and which should remain separated.



Are Compounding Medications Safe for My Child?


Yes! The compounding process is entirely safe when done by a skilled professional. The pharmacists at Cook’s compounding pharmacies are highly trained experts on drug formulations. They also have the tools, recipes, and ingredients they need to provide safe solutions to people and pets of all ages.


Pharmacists always remain diligent in fulfilling accurate prescriptions and age/weight appropriate doses regardless of whether they are providing standardized medications, a compounding service, or both.


You can rest assured that all compounded medications at Cook's Pharmacy will be tailored to your child’s unique needs. Your child’s medications will also be prepared using clean tools and compounding instruments. As usual, you can also expect our pharmacist to advise you on administering the modified over-the-counter or prescription medication(s) correctly. Your child's prescription will also include accurate and informative labels.



How to Store Your Compounds


Your compounds will be available to you in an appropriate container for your prescription or over-the-counter medication. Your pharmacist will also advise you on the correct storage requirements for your compounded medication.


Best practice is to store your containers in a cool, dry place and avoid leaving medications in your car or bathroom where they could interact with heat or humidity. In addition, always ensure all stored medications are out of reach of children and pets.


If you have expired prescription medication or leftover pills you no longer need at home, be sure to return them to the pharmacy so they can be disposed of safely.





Compounding pharmacies make it easier for parents and children who struggle with administering or consuming standardized or mass-produced over-the-counter or prescription medications. Compounding pharmacies address a gap by creating smaller pills and alternate delivery methods to provide more customized solutions.


Parents' common concerns include the taste, size, or texture of syrups, capsules, or tablets being unappealing to their children. Other concerns may include allergies, sensory challenges, or the number of individual medications required each day.


No matter your concern, a compounding pharmacy can help adapt medications to make administering medications less stressful or traumatic for both you and your child. Your pharmacist will provide you with all the information you need to store and administer your child’s personalized medications correctly.



Visit Cook’s Pharmacy to Learn More About Your Compounding Options


If you think someone in your family could benefit from medication compounding, Cook’s Pharmacy is here to help! Our skilled compounding pharmacists can modify your over-the-counter and prescription medications by utilizing our in-house compounding tools and instruments.


Ask us about how our compounding pharmacies in Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge, North Dumfries, and Wellesley can provide you with:

  • Custom made capsules and rapid dissolve tablets.

  • Specially formulated suspensions for children and adults.

  • Anal suppositories.

  • Topical creams.

  • And more!


Reach out to us to learn more about how Cook’s compounding pharmacy can find a customized medication solution that’s perfect for you!

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Light Therapy

Light therapy is a way to treat seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and certain other conditions by exposure to artificial light. SAD is a type of depression that occurs at a certain time each year, usually in the fall or winter.


During light therapy, you sit or work near a device called a light therapy box. The box gives off bright light that mimics natural outdoor light.


Light therapy is thought to affect brain chemicals linked to mood and sleep, easing SAD symptoms. Using a light therapy box may also help with other types of depression, sleep disorders and other conditions. Light therapy is also known as bright light therapy or phototherapy.

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World Mental Health Day - October 10

Presented by the World Federation of Mental Health, World Mental Health Day will be on October 10, 2021. The goal is to help raise mental health awareness. Each of us can make a contribution to ensure that people dealing with problems concerning mental health can live better lives with dignity.

Every year one adult in four, along with one child in ten, will have a mental health issue. These conditions can profoundly affect literally millions of lives, affecting the capability of these individuals to make it through the day, to sustain relationships, and to maintain work.


The stigma attached to mental health causes a damaging, albeit ill-informed, attitude, making it more difficult for those affected to pursue help. According to UK estimates, only about one-fourth of those with mental health problems undergo ongoing treatment. By stark contrast, the vast majority of those affected with these problems are faced with a variety of issues, ranging from isolation to uncertainty on where to get help or information, to relying on the informal support of family, friends or colleagues.

Raising Awareness
The best way to deal with this stigma is through facts and a better understanding of mental health problems. From identifying the causes, pinpointing solutions, and ultimately recognising that we are really dealing with medical issues. 


Crisis help links

Help is available if you need to talk and you:

  • are not feeling yourself
  • are experiencing a crisis
  • have emotional pain
  • have thoughts of suicide
  • know someone who needs help
Canada Suicide Prevention Service

If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, call the Canada Suicide Prevention Service at 1-833-456-4566 (24/7).


Kids Help Phone

Call 1-800-668-6868 (toll-free) or text CONNECT to 686868.

Available 24 hours a day to Canadians aged 5 to 29 who want confidential and anonymous care from trained responders.

To access support through Facebook Messenger see the Kids Help Phone website.


Hope for Wellness Help Line

Call 1-855-242-3310 (toll-free) or connect to the online Hope for Wellness chat.

Available to all Indigenous peoples across Canada who need immediate crisis intervention. Experienced and culturally sensitive help line counsellors can help if you want to talk or are distressed.

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Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Ask your doctor when you should get a mammogram.

Other than skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women. Mammograms are the best way to find breast cancer early, when it is easier to treat and before it is big enough to feel or cause symptoms.


What Are the Symptoms?

There are different symptoms of breast cancer, and some people have no symptoms at all. Symptoms can include—

  • Any change in the size or the shape of the breast.
  • Pain in any area of the breast.
  • Nipple discharge other than breast milk (including blood).
  • A new lump in the breast or underarm.

If you have any signs that worry you, see your doctor right away.



"Many women are truly unable to afford mammography services. NBCF funding allows us to reach vulnerable women who are falling through the cracks. Whether this leads to a cancer diagnosis that can now be successfully treated or provides peace of mind that there is no evidence of cancer, we have changed somebody’s life for the better."
Elizabeth A. Jett M.D.Director of Breast Imaging, OU Breast Institute


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​It is probably one of the easiest ways to prevent millions of cases of cancer each year—sunscreen. However, most of us still forget to slather on the sunscreen. Canadian men and women regularly forget to put sunscreen on their faces and other exposed skin before heading outside for more than an hour.

So, what do you need to know about protecting your skin from the sun? 



Here are 10 tips to keep in mind as you finish out the summer.

  1. Use sunscreen everyday even if it’s cloudy outside.
  2. Apply at least one ounce of sunscreen (enough to fill a shot glass) at least 15 to 30 minutes before going outside. Also use a lip balm or lipstick that contains sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30.
  3. Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB radiation. Make sure it is water resistant and has a SPF of 30 or higher. Other sunscreens may help keep you from getting sunburned, but they won’t protect against skin cancer.
  4. Reapply sunscreen every two hours. Reapply every hour if you are swimming or sweating.
  5. Be extra careful around water and sand. These surfaces reflect the damaging rays of the sun, which can increase your chance of getting a sunburn.
  6. Keep babies younger than 6 months old completely covered and in the shade.
  7. Limit the amount of time you’re in the sun between 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM. This is when the sun's rays are the most intense. Practice the shadow rule: if your shadow is shorter than you, the sun's rays are at their strongest, and you should find shade.
  8. If possible, wear a long-sleeved shirt and long pants. Dark clothing with tightly woven fabric blocks more sun than white or loosely woven fabrics. For additional protection, look for clothes made with special sun-protective materials.
  9. Accessorize with a hat that shades your face, neck, and ears and a pair of sunglasses. Sunglasses with lenses that have 99% to 100% UV absorption provide optimal protection for the eyes and the surrounding skin.
  10. Be even more cautious if you are taking medications that may make you more sensitive to the sun. These include specific types of antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, antifungals, blood pressure medications, and chemotherapies.



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