Managing the Medications You Take is Essential to Aging Well
The older we get, the more likely we are to be taking prescription medications. As we mentioned in this post, more than a third of Americans over the age of 65 take at least five prescription medications and the typical 75-year-old takes more than 10 prescription drugs. This can make taking the right doses at the right time confusing. Given the potential dangers of taking the wrong medication or taking too much or too little of the right medication, managing your medications is a critical component in maintaining good health as you age.
Here are some tips to help you make sure you’re taking the medications you need and avoiding taking something you shouldn’t.
Get a “days of the week” pillbox
These simple and inexpensive devices make it easier to remember exactly what to take and when. They make it easy to track your medications and tell if you’ve accidentally skipped a dose.
While a pillbox can help you stay organized, a reminder is an added step that can help ensure you stay on track. There are a variety of ways to set reminders: smartphones, personal voice devices – like Amazon’s Echo (Alexa) or Google’s Assistant – or even an alarm clock.
If possible, use a single pharmacy
Using a single pharmacy for all of your medication needs allows your pharmacist to track your medication and raise a red flag if a new prescription is known to interact adversely with a current prescription.
Take medications as recommended
Your doctor and/or pharmacist can go over medication instructions with you. Take the right amount at the recommended time. Know whether to take your medication with or without food or water and be careful of mixing with alcohol.
Be aware of side effects
If you’re aware of what the potential side effects of a drug are, you can be better prepared and more likely to recognize a side effect, as opposed to a new symptom. Talk to your doctor about new side effects as soon as possible—negative side effects may mean you need a different prescription.
Store your medications properly
Many medications have storage instructions. While most should be stored in a dry, cool location, some may need to be refrigerated. Try to avoid storing your medications in your bathroom, where it can get humid and warm.
Review your medications with your doctor regularly
This is the best way to help ensure you are taking the appropriate medications at the right dosages. Are there drugs you should no longer be taking? Could two or more of your medications be dangerous if taken together? Your doctor can help you stay on track.
Advocate for yourself
If you have questions or you’re experiencing an adverse effect from a certain medication, talk to your doctor or pharmacist! Don’t be afraid to speak up and let your health providers know what’s going on. There may be alternate options if a specific drug isn’t working for you.
Get some help
You may find that even with all of the suggestions above, you still have challenges managing your medications. You aren’t alone! An in-home caregiver from Family Home Health can help remind you when it’s time to take your medications as well as provide companionship and help with daily household chores and errands.