Independent Patient Resources
We've put together a few resources we believe are helpful to independent patients looking to improve their medication management. Please contact us if you have any questions about any of this information.
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It is very important to be actively involved in your healthcare. Make sure to have an open dialog with your prescriber about questions and concerns you might have when a physician prescribes a new medication for you. Here's a short list of basic questions to always ask:
- What is this medication called?
- How does this medication work?
- What are the possible side effects?
- Exactly how many times do I take this medication every day and at what intervals?
- Are there any dangerous interactions with other medications or certain foods?
- How long do I need to take this medication?
- How do I store this medication?
- How much does this medication cost (with and without insurance)?
Helpful Tips and Keys to Success
Here are a few helpful tips for effective medication management...
1. Make sure the pharmacy label says why you are taking the prescription
This is important for older adults who are taking multiple medications, to ensure that they know what each medication is for and how to take it properly.
2. Create and maintain an up-to-date medication list
Keep an accurate list of all medications, including generic and brand names, dosages, dosing frequency, and reason for taking the drugs to help reduce the risk of polypharmacy.
3. Bring a medications list - or the medications themselves - to the doctor with you
Bring your list of prescription medications, over-the-counter drugs, and herbal supplements you are taking to your doctor visit, or to a pharmacist. The more information your provider has, the more accurately they can pinpoint any potential adverse effects or drug interactions.
4. Ask your provider if the dosage is age-appropriate
Seniors can be more sensitive to some drugs and less sensitive to others due to the way our bodies respond to various drugs as we get older. They are also more likely to experience adverse effects. Double-check with your pharmacist or doctor to ensure that the dosage on the prescription is age-appropriate, and ask if it’s advisable to start with a lower dose and taper upwards.
5. Talk to the pharmacist and ask questions
If you have any concerns at all about the combination of medications you or your loved one is taking, or how a new medication will affect you, ask your doctor or pharmacist. Learn about the potential side effects, dosage, proper storage, and anything else that will help you take medications correctly. You should also talk to your provider if you are thinking about stopping a medication.
6. Get a second opinion if you are uncertain
Not all providers are alike. If you are concerned about a prescription or a diagnosis, don’t be afraid to seek out a second opinion.
7. Be aware of medications deemed unsafe for the elderly
Some medications pose a higher risk of side effects or interactions, while others are simply less effective in older adults. The Beers Criteria for Potentially Inappropriate Medication Use in Older Adults, put together by the American Geriatric Society, is a list of medications that older adults should avoid or use with caution. Ask your pharmacist if any of your loved one’s medications are on the caution list, and whether you should be concerned.
8. Know the side effect profile of your medications
Knowing the potential side effects and interactions can help you stay alert to any health changes that may occur in response to a new medication or combination of medications. If you do notice health changes, contact a physician right away.
9. Tell your provider about any previous adverse drug effects
If you or your loved one has had a bad reaction to any medication in the past, let your doctor and pharmacist know.
10. Closely monitor medication compliance in the cognitively impaired
If your loved one shows signs of confusion about their medications, or has been diagnosed with cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s disease, or another form of dementia, do not allow them to manage or take their own medications. If they are simply having trouble tracking their medications, a reminder system may be helpful, but the situation is more serious if your loved one is cognitively impaired. Taking medications incorrectly can be harmful or fatal.
11. Minimize the number of providers and pharmacists you use
Keeping the number of doctors and pharmacies to a minimum is better for you and better for the providers who must coordinate care.TOP
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