Seniors over 70 years of age are typically prescribed daily medications to control health issues, chronic illnesses, and maintain an active lifestyle. Prescribed drugs could have possible side effects or interact with other drugs adversely. Your local pharmacist is the professional expert to help minimize any risks and should be advised before additional drugs are added to your daily regimen.
Each time you get a refill or a new prescription it is advised that the senior or their caregiver have a current list of medications with dosages on hand to discuss with the pharmacist. Seniors 65 and older are at high risk for medication errors in dosage and drug interactions so it is vital to communicate with the pharmacist as the medication is prescribed. Even over-the-counter medicine should also be shared with the pharmacist to ensure your Senior’s safety. Does the senior have more than one physician? If so, drug prescriptions need to be synced and all physicians need to be aware of all medications.
Equally important is the storage of your medication. Does it need to be cold stored, sealed tight on a shelf (visible), on the counter in a plastic bag, or is it allocated in a medicine box by week container? Refrigerated medications should be maintained at 32 degrees Fahrenheit in a tightly sealed cap to prevent exposure to air, moisture, and bacterial growth. Do not leave in the door as it does not maintain the cold as well.
Seniors taking the wrong dosage, missing dosages, and taking wrong medications can have serious consequences.
It is important to ask these questions to your senior’s physician(s) and pharmacist:
- What is the medication for? Is it essential?
- Does it need to be a brand name drug, or can a generic name be as effective for their needs?
- Will the new drug replace a current drug?
- Can any drugs be eliminated?
- What happens if you miss a dose? Can you take a make-up dose?
- How long until the medication takes effect? Are there side effects to watch for?
- Should other medicines, foods, or other activities be avoided while taking the medication?
- Is there an increased risk of falling or dizziness while taking medication? Is it okay to drive?
- How long must the medication be taken? Antibiotics are generally a week to 10 days. Is it prescribed to treat a life-long disease like diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol?
Daily Medication logs are a great resource to document medicine. Always take medicine at a consistent time with a meal to alleviate errors. A free log can be downloaded here; Daily Medication Log
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