What Questions Should I Ask the Pharmacist About My Loved One's Medications?

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Q: What questions should I ask the pharmacist when I refill my elderly mother's prescriptions?

A: While I always encourage patients to ask questions, I would first encourage you to share any changes in your loved one's health with the pharmacist. Also report to the pharmacist any new medications that your mother may be taking that the pharmacist may not have dispensed, including samples, over-the-counter medications, specialty meds (injections, etc.), herbal or dietary supplements, etc.

Such information many times prompts a more active "give and take" communication between the pharmacist and the patient or their caregiver.

I would also reconfirm that their medications are being taken correctly in relationship to one another. Share any change of orders that the doctor has made and not written down. Many times a verbal change in orders may easily be misunderstood and may lead to medication-related problems.

You are encouraged to bring in lab reports and share the results with the pharmacist. Lab results may give better reasons for changes of orders or side effects.

You and your mother should have a fairly good idea of the side effects to expect since side effects are detailed in the consumer drug information that is available with prescription orders. Such side effects should be reported to both the pharmacist and the prescriber. Ask what may be done to prevent or lessen such side effects.

Always be aware of refill status so that you are not surprised by a needed office visit before more prescription orders can be obtained.

Lynn Harrelson is a pharmacist who specializes in medication and prescription management for seniors. She provides health care services and information that help individuals remain independent in their homes, retirement and assisted living facilities.

Senior Pharmacy Solutions

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