As a person ages, they frequently begin to require more medications to manage their medical conditions and maintain their physical health. Currently, over two-thirds of adults over the age of 65 take at least one or more types of medications a day. Additionally, many of these seniors take more than three medications at varying times each day. This increased use of medications places seniors at risk for serious problems such as drug interactions and missed doses. If you are currently taking any type of medication, then our Safe Medication Use for Seniors is a critical list of what you need to know about communicating with your physician and pharmacy to stay safe and protect your health from medication mistakes.
Read Labels and Inserts
The more that you know about your medication, the less likely you will be to make a mistake. Take the time to carefully read each one of your medication labels and inserts to practice. Most pharmacies also include a patient education center in which a pharmacist can educate you about any new medications you are taking. By learning as much as you can about safe medication use for seniors, you will be able to identify potential problems before they can take place.
Inform Doctors About All Medications
When talking to their doctor, many people forget to mention every medication they take each day. Unfortunately, this raises the risk of serious drug interactions. Even herbal supplements, vitamins and over-the-counter remedies should be mentioned because many of these can significantly alter the effect of prescription medications. If you have trouble remembering all of your medications, then make a list to take with you on your next scheduled appointment that can help you discuss safe medication use for seniors.
Record Side Effects
Anytime you begin taking a new medication, remain alert for potential side effects. It is also important to remember that side effects can develop even after you have taken a medication for some time. When side effects occur, make a note of when they begin and how they make you feel. This handy reference can aid your physician in assisting you with managing the side effects from your medication while helping to identify serious problems with a specific medication.
Use Medication Reminders
Keeping track of your medications is basic safe medication use for seniors that can be made easier by using memory aids such as pill organizers, alarms, and rx reminders. When you use a pill organizer, you can tell with only a glance whether or not you have taken your medication. Additionally, scheduled alarms can alert you when it is time to take your next dose. There are even free iPhone and Android apps along with online reminder services that can scheduled your medication reminders by SMS, email, or phone.
Keep Medicine Away from Children
Although your children may be grown and out of the house, you should still keep your medication in a safe place. By storing your medications in a locked cabinet or using childproofed containers, you can be certain that your grandchildren will always be safe when they come to visit.
At some point, you will most likely have a few questions about a medication you are taking. Do not hesitate to contact your pharmacist, physician or a reputable medical website to learn more about safe medication use for seniors. By asking questions, you can take charge of your health while staying informed about the safety of the medications you take each day.
About this Angie’s List Expert: Cary Byrd is the president and founder of eDrugSearch.com. Based in San Antonio, eDrugSearch.com is a free cost comparison engine that helps consumers get safe access to affordable medications and advocates licensed online pharmacies as a widely accepted alternative.