Although modern medicines have many benefits for senior citizens in treatment of age-related disease, caution needs to be taken when using a combination of medicines. Medicine or “drugs” can refer to any substance you get with a prescription, any oral or topical substance used for pain relief, and dietary supplements. Any substance that has the potential to interact with other substances in the body can be considered in this category. To prevent mixing medicinal substances together that could be harmful, always let your doctor know what medications you take in addition to those prescribed. Senior citizens should keep a list of medications and doses that they take and bring it to every doctor’s appointment.
It is very important to practice safe habits with medication as many drugs can be lethal is taken in the wrong way. Senior citizens should use the following tips to ensure safe use of medication. Companions or caregivers should use these tips to help facilitate and encourage proper medication use.
Tips for when you are Prescribed Medications
When a doctor prescribes a new medication for specified symptoms, remember the following tips for how to proceed afterward:
- Tell your doctor about all other medications you currently take,
- Remind primary care physicians about allergies that you have or side effects that you experience from other types of medications.
- Be sure that you understand exactly how all of your medications work and how to properly take them.
Here are some helpful questions to get this information:
- What is the name of the medication?
- Why am I taking it?
- How many times a day should I take it?
- Should I take this medication before, during, or after meals?
- What does “as needed” mean?
- When should I stop taking the medication?
- If I forget to take the medication, what should I do?
- What side effects can I expect?
You can also ask your pharmacist these questions and others to get more information about your medication. By having all of your medications filled at the same pharmacy, the pharmacy may be able to predict harmful interactions if all of your medications are kept on file. When getting a prescription filled at the pharmacy, keep these tips in mind:
- Be sure that you can read and understand all directions and writing materials that accompany prescribed medication.
- Check that you can open the container the medicine is in.
- Let your pharmacist know if you have difficulty swallowing pills, so that you can get a liquid variety if available – Do not crush or chew medication meant to be swallowed.
- Ask about the best way to store the medication.
- Be sure that the label of the medication indicates that it is the correct medication you were prescribed and displays your name.
Tips for Taking Medications
After filling a prescription for a medication that you received from your doctor, you should be sure that you follow directions for taking that medication. Here are some tips for safely taking a combination of medications:
- Have a list of medications; include the doctor who prescribed it, the name of the medication, the reason you take it, and the directions for use.
- Read and save all written information that comes with prescribed medication
- Take your medication exactly in the way that it is meant to be taken.
- Let your doctor know immediately if you experience any unexpected side effects from the medication.
- Use charts, calendars, or weekly pillboxes to help you remember which medications to take on a daily basis.
- Make sure companions or caregivers know when and how you are supposed to take your medication so that they can remind you.
- Do not skip medication – if you have trouble affording medication, research programs that can aid in funding for needed medications. Medicare, a government program for senior citizens, may be a good place to start.
- Avoid mixing alcohol and medication – alcohol can cause medications to not work correctly.
- Take medication until it is finished or your doctor instructs you to stop.
- Do not take medication prescribed to others.
- Do not take medication in the dark to avoid making a mistake.
- Check expiration dates on your pill bottles in case a medication should be replaced.
- Do not leave your medication in the open where children or pets could get to them.