As you grow older, you are more likely to develop long-term health conditions that require taking multiple medications. Many older people also take over-the-counter (OTC) medications, vitamins, or supplements. As a result, older adults have a higher risk of overmedication and unwanted drug reactions
(adverse drug events).According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adverse drug events result in over 700,000 visits to hospital emergency rooms each year. Many adverse drug events can be prevented.
To lower the chances of overmedication and drug reactions, the American Geriatrics Society’s Foundation for Health in Aging recommends the following tips for safe use of medications.
- ASK BEFORE TAKING AN OTC
Even though a prescription is not needed for over-the-counter medications (OTCs),
some can cause serious side effects in seniors. Some OTC medications—like
ibuprofen and naproxen—have different names but belong to the same drug type
or category. Taking both drugs at the same time is the same as taking a double dose,
and could cause problems. Also, OTC drugs and supplements may interact with your
prescription medications. For these reasons, you should always check with your
healthcare provider or pharmacist before taking any OTC drug or supplement.
- MAKE A LISTAND KEEP IT UPDATED
Make a list of all the medications you take, their doses, and how often you take them.
Be sure to include in the list any OTC drugs, vitamins, supplements or herbal or
other remedies. Share this list with all of your healthcare providers and caregivers.
You should keep a copy too. Take the list with you to each medical appointment, and
carry the list with you at all times, in case of a medical emergency.
- REVIEW AND REVISE YOUR MEDICATIONS
Once or twice a year, ask your primary healthcare provider to review your list of
medications, supplements, and vitamins. Ask whether you still need to take each one
at its current dose. Your provider may want to stop some of your medications.
- ASK QUESTIONS
Whenever a healthcare provider prescribes a new medication or a change in the
dose, ask why. (If, for example, your provider prescribes a new medication to ease
the side effects of a drug you’re already taking, ask if it makes sense to continue
taking the drug that is causing the side effect.) Ask your provider or pharmacist to
check any new medications in a drug interaction computer database, especially if
you’re already taking five or more drugs
- READ PRESCRIPTION LABELS
Check the prescription label and look in the bottle to make sure the pharmacist has
given you the right amount, of the right drug, at the right dose. Your pharmacist can
put large print labels on your medications if you have vision problems.
- FOLLOW DIRECTIONS
Take your medications exactly as directed by your healthcare providers. Be sure
you understand how, when, and for how long you should take the medication. Try
to have all your prescriptions filled at the same pharmacy, so they get to know
you and the pharmacist is aware of all the different medications you are taking.
Most pharmacies use computer systems that alert the pharmacist of possible drug
interactions. Also, let your pharmacist know about any past allergic reactions you
have had to medications.
- MEDICATION DOs AND DON’Ts
Do throw away medication if the expiration date has passed.
Do make a list of your medications and know what each one is for.
Do ask questions.
Do be sure to keep your prescriptions filled so you don’t run out.
Do use a pillbox to help you remember when to take your medications.
Don’t take medicine that is not prescribed for you.
Don’t use medication that has passed its expiration date.
Don’t stop taking medication just because you feel better.
Contact Pure Home Care Services at (586) 293-2457 today! If you live in Sterling Heights or the surrounding area, we can help you care for your loved ones.