Although medications can make us feel better and help us get well, it is important to remember that medications also have risks. One of the most important things that seniors and family members can do to reduce their risk of harm from medications is to educate themselves. This education includes understanding the importance of taking medications properly, monitoring use and properly storing them.
As our bodies age, fat and muscle content change and this affects our bodies’ ability to absorb and process substances. Therefore, senior adults may experience problems related to changes in their body’s ability to metabolize medications and their physician may recommend smaller doses of medicine per pound of body weight. Exercise habits, diet and general health also influence how seniors respond to medications.
1) Always inform your physician and any other healthcare provider of all of the medications that you are taking. Take your list and/or your pill bottles to your doctor’s visits.
2) Check the label on your medication before you take it to make sure it is for the correct person—you.
3) Maintain an up-to-date list of all medications. Include herbal products, over-the-counter medications, dietary supplements and vitamins. Include those that are only taken occasionally.
4) Inform your healthcare providers of any allergies or sensitivities that you have to foods or medications.
5) Advise your healthcare providers of anything that could affect your ability to take medicines—difficulty swallowing, forgetfulness.
6) Take your medications as prescribed.
- Always follow the directions for your medications.
- Do not break, crush or chew tablets without asking a health professional first. NEVER break, crush or chew a capsule.
- Never take someone else’s medications.
- Never take more medication than prescribed. If your current dose does not help, contact the prescribing physician.
7) Educate yourself about your medications and ask questions.
- What is the name of the medication?
- Why am I taking this medication? What condition is it for?
- How long will it take to work?
- How should I store the medication? Does it need to be refrigerated?
- Can the pharmacist substitute a less expensive, generic form of the medicine?
8) Store medications in a cool, dry place.
– Keep medicines out of the reach and sight of children and pets.
- Use a lock box, cabinet or closet to store medications. Bathroom cabinets should be avoided as the humidity can affect the chemical composition and effectiveness.
9) Check the expiration dates on your medications routinely. Expired medical products can be less effective (reduced potency) or risky due to changes in the chemical composition.
10) Dispose of expired medications properly. If your community does not have a medication take-back program, then follow the federal guidelines for disposal. These guidelines advise individuals to throw medicines away in the household trash by placing in a bag or container with coffee grounds or kitty litter. Only flush medications in the toilet or down a sink if the medication label recommends this.
Please visit http://www.homehealthmedical.com/c/Patient-Aids/Medication-Management/ to learn more about medication management products, such as pill boxes, splitters and monthly organizers, available through HomeHealthMedical.com.
Senior Care Management Services are available through Touchpoint. A Senior Care Manager is a valuable resource to help family members and long-distance caregivers navigate the many aspects of caring for an aging adult. Please call 317-621-4664 or 877-621-4660 (toll-free) or visit our website at eCommunity.com/seniorcare.