Advocates for the elderly are urging seniors to bring up the new, government-paid Medicare prescription drug benefit as a topic of conversation with relatives around the Thanksgiving dinner table. Margaret Stout of the Medicare Prescription Drug Access Network of Iowa says the holiday will be a good time to sit down and have that discussion.

Today, November 15th, is the opening day for seniors to choose which prescription drug plan fits their needs. Stout, who is also executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, has to make the decision herself. She’s been stacking up all the mailings she’s been getting, and will soon sit down to go through that worksheet, then discuss the decision with her pharmacist.

The worksheet was part of a mailing every Medicare recipient received earlier this fall. If you lost it, you can find it on-line at Stout says seniors and the disabled who qualify for Medicare should talk with someone else they trust about the decision, like their pharmacist.”Because making the decision alone many times is not always the wise thing to do,” Stout says. “People do market plans that may not be to your benefit, so again, I can only stress over and over again how important it is to do your homework.”

The worksheet Stout mentioned helps folks list their prescribed medications, and figure out which prescription drug plan would provide the best coverage for those medications.