If you’re like most seniors, you are probably taking between one and seven medications a day – maybe more. Are you confident in your ability to keep your medications straight? Are you following all of your doctor’s recommendations related to your prescriptions? Thousands of people die every year from improper use of prescription medications.
Here are some tips on how to prevent dangerous side effects and complications inherent in the misuse or confusion related to juggling multiple prescriptions. Be sure to follow these guidelines to get the most benefits from your prescription medications.
Organize your daily medications to ensure you’re taking them correctly. Something as simple as a pillbox with compartments for your pills labeled Monday to Sunday can help ensure that you are taking the right prescriptions at the right time and not double dosing (or forgetting pills). Getting organized is the best way to beat this very common mistake.
Follow your doctor’s instructions exactly. If your doctor says to avoid drinking alcohol or operating a motor vehicle while taking a particular prescription, listen to them. Even eating some types of food will interfere with how your medication is absorbed, which could impact its effectiveness. Not following a doctor’s instructions precisely could put you in danger.
Always share your complete list of medications with your doctor. Mixing medications can cause life-threatening side effects. Ensure that your doctor is aware of all of the medications and supplements you’re taking each day. Keep a running list of your prescriptions that you bring with you to every doctor’s appointment. Don’t just rely on your recollection of what has been prescribed and how often.
Ask questions about your medications. It can be tempting to simply accept your doctor’s prescriptions without asking questions about them. However, be sure that you have a complete understanding of the types of medication you’re taking, the side effects, and any behavioral restrictions you need to follow while taking it. It’s in your best interests to arm yourself with the knowledge you need, including what to do if you accidently skip a dose or take a double dose of a particular medication.
Take medication as directed. When you’ve been on a type of medication for a long time, it can be tempting to skip a dose now and then, or change the times you take the dose as prescribed. No matter how well you feel, always consult with your doctor before changing how and when you take a prescription.