Seniors – or those at any age taking medication regularly – can make sure they take medications safely and effectively by following these tips:
- Keep a list of all medications (over-the-counter, herbal and Eastern remedies as well as prescription) that you take, and make sure your doctor has that updated information at every visit. It’s especially important to share this information with when visiting a clinic or a new doctor.
- Ask for specific information about why a medication is being prescribed, what it is intended to do, and how long you must take it.
- Make sure you understand how to take any new medications your doctor may prescribe. Ask the pharmacist to confirm how much you should take, when you should take it, and if you should take it with food.
- Ask your doctor about any potential side effects you should watch for, or any precautions you should take with new medications.
- When picking up your prescription, verify that the medication name and directions match the information from your doctor.
- Keep the medication in its original container. Ask the pharmacy to use an easy-open container or to use a large print label if necessary.
- Use a pill organizer to help you remember to take the right pills at the right time – and avoid missed doses.
- Dispose of expired medications or medications you no longer need (with doctor’s approval only).
- Never take medication that wasn’t prescribed for you. Consult with your doctor before taking any over-the-counter, vitamin, or herbal supplements.
The Senior Health Program at El Camino Hospital has primary care physicians (PCPs) that can help you safely manage your medication needs.
This article first appeared in the September 2013 edition of the HealthPerks newsletter.