When patients, caregivers, doctors and pharmacists function as a team, medication-related problems can be avoided, contributing to better outcomes and improved daily functioning. Here are some tips for managing medication use:
Understand the Medication
Find out as much as possible about every medication: the name, dosage, frequency and side effects. Understand why it has been prescribed, and ask the doctor to write down instructions for its use.
Have Complete Medical Records
Make sure to provide complete medical records to your loved one's health care providers. Medical history records should contain surgeries, immunizations, allergies and family health history (i.e. diabetes, colon cancer). Records can be sent by a previous provider if needed.
Follow the Directions
Following the directions of the medication is imperative to ensure safety. Read all instructions carefully. Dispense only the recommended dosage at one time and finish the entire prescription if instructed. There may be foods or drinks to avoid while taking the medicine. Or the medicine may have to be taken with food or a whole glass of water.
The average older adult takes five or more prescriptions drugs each day. In addition, many elderly people take various over-the-counter medications, such as antacids, laxatives or pain-killers, which are often used without informing their physician. The drugs may conflict and interact poorly with each other – basically going to war against each other in the body, leading to serious side effects and even life-threatening conditions.
Use Only One Pharmacist
Fill all prescriptions at the same pharmacy. This way, the pharmacist will be aware of all medications your parent takes, and can look out for potential drug interactions.