Safe Use of Medicines for Older Adults
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Jerry looked at his five pill bottles. It was getting hard to keep track of his growing list of medicines. He needed a way to remember what each medicine was for, how much to take, and when.
Medicines help us live longer and healthier. But, taking them the wrong way or mixing certain drugs can be dangerous. You need to be careful to keep track of your medicines and use them safely.
What Are Medicines? What Are Drugs?
Medicines, often referred to as drugs, can be:
Make sure your doctor knows about ALL the medicines you take. This includes those prescribed by other doctors, as well as vitamins, supplements, herbal remedies, and over-the-counter drugs you use every now and then.
What You Need to Know About Your Medicines
Talk with your doctor, nurse, or other healthcare provider before starting a new medicine. Go over your allergies and any problems you have had with other medicines, such as rashes, trouble breathing, indigestion, dizziness, or mood changes.
You will also want to find out whether you’ll need to change or stop taking any of your other prescriptions or over-the-counter drugs while using this new medicine. Mixing some drugs can cause unpleasant and sometimes serious problems. For instance, it is dangerous to use aspirin when taking a blood-thinning medicine.
Because of this, it is important to keep a list of all prescription drugs and over-the-counter remedies you take. Print and fill out the Tracking Your Medications: Worksheet to help you keep track of your medications.
When starting a new medication, make sure to write down the name of the drug and why it’s being prescribed for you. Also, make note of any special instructions for how to take the medicine.
Questions to Ask Your Doctor About a New Medicine
Each time you visit your doctor, tell him or her about new medicines you’re taking, and be sure to ask if you still need to be on all your medications.
How Can a Pharmacist Help?
A pharmacist can answer many of your questions about prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs. Try to have all your prescriptions filled at the same pharmacy so your records are in one place. This will help alert the pharmacist if a new drug might cause a problem with something else you are taking. If you’re not able to use just one pharmacy, show the pharmacist at each pharmacy your list of medicines and over-the-counter drugs when you drop off your prescription.
When you have a prescription filled:
Check the label to ensure you are not allergic to any of the ingredients. Make sure your doctor and pharmacist have an up-to-date list of your allergies so they don’t give you a medicine that contains something you are allergic to.
Learn how to read a prescription label in the free booklet Safe Use of Medicines: Take Your Medicines the Right Way—Each Day!
Talk with your doctor or pharmacist if you have questions about the written information that comes with your prescription.
Medications and Traveling
Before you travel, ask your doctor or pharmacist how to adjust your medicine schedule to account for changes in time zones, routine, and diet. Bring the phone numbers of your doctors and pharmacists with you. Carry a list of all the medications you take with you. When flying, carry your medicines with you; do not pack them in your checked luggage. Take enough medication with you in case you need to stay longer. When traveling, always keep medicines out of heat and direct sunlight.
Unwanted or unexpected symptoms or feelings that occur when you take medicine are called side effects. Side effects can be relatively minor, such as a headache or a dry mouth. They can also be life-threatening, such as severe bleeding or irreversible damage to the liver or kidneys. Medications’ side effects also can affect your driving.
If you experience side effects, write them down so you can report them to your doctor accurately. Call your doctor right away if you have any problems with your medicines or if you are worried that the medicine might be doing more harm than good. He or she may be able to change your medication to another that will work just as well.
Generic or Brand Name–What’s the Difference?
Most generic and brand-name medicines act the same way in the body. They contain the same active ingredients—the part of the medicine that makes it work. A generic drug should be just as safe as a brand-name drug. They should both be of equal strength and quality. You take a generic drug the same way as a brand-name drug.
Keeping Track of Your Medicines
Here are some tips to help you keep track of all your medicines:
Taking Medicines Safely
Here are some tips to help you take your medicines safely:
Can I Get Addicted to Pain Medicine?
Anyone can become addicted to prescription pain medicines. Never take more medicine than the doctor prescribes. Read more about opioids and prescription pain medicines in Pain: You Can Get Help.
CINTAA Elder care shares useful information regarding healthcare on weekly basis. The post is only for information purpose only. Please check with your health care professional before using this information. To keep yourself updated with many other health tips, stay with us. We provide certified caregivers for seniors at home. If you need any help regarding eldercare, please feel free to call us today at 561-963-1915.