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Top 5 Tips for Medication Safety

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  • Preventing Drug Interactions: To guard against drug interactions, keep a comprehensive list of all medications, vitamins, and herbal remedies your loved one takes. Include the contact information of the prescribing physician next to each medication. Some doctors may not be aware of the other doctors their patients are seeing. Bring this list to every doctor appointment and ensure it remains up-to-date.
  • The Importance of Sticking with One Pharmacy: Many seniors shop for the cheapest medication, often overlooking the benefits of staying with a single pharmacy. A dedicated pharmacist can be incredibly helpful, spotting potential drug interactions, identifying possible issues, and recommending over-the-counter medications that can safely be taken with prescribed ones. Include the pharmacist’s contact information on the medication list provided to each doctor. When doctors call in a prescription, ensure they use the same pharmacy each time. Many doctors’ offices will verify the pharmacy.
Importance of Avoiding Polypharmacy

 

  • Disposing of Outdated Medicines: While some keep medications longer to save on prescription costs, this practice can be dangerous. Medications can degrade over time with exposure to light and heat, potentially becoming ineffective or harmful. Always consult your physician before using the medication you have at home. Antibiotics, in particular, should be taken entirely as prescribed to avoid antibiotic resistance and ensure the correct treatment for any subsequent infections.
  • Monitoring Side Effects: Seniors can be susceptible to new medications. Always ask your doctor about potential side effects and how the new medication might interact with existing treatments. Pharmacies often provide leaflets detailing side effects and when to contact a doctor. Caregivers should keep these leaflets for reference and be vigilant about changes in patient conditions.
  • Adhering to Prescription Instructions: Never take medication prescribed for someone else or give your medication to others. Each individual’s medical history and current medications can lead to serious drug interactions. If you have leftover medicines and wish to donate them, verify if the organization can accept them. Many places cannot take medication donations and will dispose of them. Some outreach projects can accept donated medications but always check first.

Additional Tips:

Avoid Skipping Doses Always take medications as prescribed without skipping doses to make them last longer. Skipping doses can lead to improper management of your condition and potential health complications. If you have trouble affording medications, explore patient assistance programs like NeedyMeds, which provide information on brand and generic drugs. These programs often require a doctor’s signature and financial information to verify eligibility.

Double-Check Dosages Before taking any medication, double-check the label to ensure you follow your doctor’s instructions. This is crucial, especially for seniors taking multiple medications. Verify the correct dosage and follow any specific instructions for gradually reducing or stopping medications, if necessary. Always confirm with your doctor or pharmacist.

Watch for Dropped Pills: Seniors may have difficulty handling small pills due to reduced sensation in their fingers. Regularly check the medication area for dropped pills, which can indicate that the medication is not being taken correctly. Caregivers can assist by supervising or administering medications to ensure they are taken as prescribed.

Stay Organized: Use a pill organizer to track medications and ensure they are taken at the correct times. Setting alarms or reminders can also help maintain a consistent medication schedule. Regularly review the medication list with healthcare providers to make any necessary adjustments.

Proper Storage: Store medications in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight to prevent degradation. Ensure that all medications are kept out of the reach of children and pets. Proper storage helps maintain the medication’s effectiveness.

Seek Professional Guidance Always consult healthcare providers with any medication questions or concerns. Pharmacists and doctors can provide valuable insights and assistance in managing complex medication regimens.

 

KEY – Proper medication management ensures the reduction of drug interactions and correct dosages and minimizes side effects.

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