According to research, 25% of adults ages 65 to 69 and 46% of adults ages 70 to 79 take at least five prescription drugs to treat chronic conditions. This is not surprising because we know that as we age, our health requires more attention to maintain and control. However, managing five prescriptions can be demanding especially when it is necessary for overall wellness. But research shows that adhering to a medication regimen can have a vital impact on patients’ health. Therefore, we provide five tips in this blog post for managing medications to maximize their effectiveness.
Whether you are taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, you should read the box or bottle for instructions on how often and when to consume the medicine. Labels also often indicate whether the prescription can or cannot be taken with other substances, like alcohol and how the medication should be stored (i.e. in a cool, dark place). Therefore, be sure to read the labels and follow the instructions carefully.
If you are taking multiple medications, it can be tricky to remember which medication is which. Therefore, dedicating a notebook or a note on your smartphone to listing your prescriptions can help you stay organized and serve as a reference. The list should include the name of the prescription, when and how often you take the medicine and when you started or stopped taking the medicine.
You may also experience side effects when you begin to take a new medication. In your notebook, you should write down any new symptoms or side effects you are experiencing. This should then be discussed with your doctor (see tip #3). If the side effects are serious, you should immediately call your healthcare professional and discuss next steps with them.
The benefit to keeping track of your medications is that you can reference the list when you meet with your healthcare professionals, whether a primary care doctor, pharmacist or a specialist. If you are experiencing side effects or have questions about any prescriptions, it is important to talk to a professional that can provide more information and answer your questions.
Further, if you are discussing any new prescriptions with your health care professional, it is important that they know what drugs you are currently taking. This will help to ensure that you are not consuming prescriptions that should not be taken together.
As noted, you should be reading labels on your medications and taking note of how long to take the medicine or when it is expired. Once a prescription has reached its expiration date, it should be disposed of properly. This includes removing your personal health information from the packaging, and destroying the medication by placing it in a plastic bag and adding filler and placing it in the trash. For more detailed instructions on how to properly dispose of old or unused medications, visit the MyOldMeds website here.
While you are managing your medications by taking notes and talking with your health care professionals, it is also important to share some information with a close friend or family member. If your partner, child or neighbor has an understanding about your medication regimen then they can help you manage your prescriptions. This might include asking questions that you had not thought of, taking note of expiration dates or checking in to make sure you have taken your medications for the day.
Many older adults rely on prescriptions to maintain their health and continue to live healthy, active lives. However, balancing a variety of medications can be overwhelming or frustrating. By staying organized and communicating with others about your experience, then a medication plan becomes more manageable.