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September 5, 2018 | Pharmacy • Value-Based Care
Many older adults need to take more than one medication to manage their conditions, but taking more medications can put your health at risk if you don’t take them as directed. “In 2008, more than 680,000 people over age 65 went to the emergency room because of adverse reactions to medications,” according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
If you have multiple prescriptions, follow these steps to take them safely:
Include all prescription medications, over-the-counter products and supplements in this list. It is also helpful to include the dosage, instructions for use, physical description of the medication and any side effects to watch out for and notify your doctor about. Keeping this list up to date and sharing it with your support system can help you take your medications safely. The American Society of Heath-System Pharmacists offers this great template for creating a medication list, but you can also create one yourself or use an app on your smartphone.
Sharing your medication list with your doctor is especially important if you see more than one provider. If your doctors are not in the same health system network, they may not have access to the same prescription records. Any time your doctor prescribes a new medication, make sure you add it to your list and ask your doctor these questions.
Using the same pharmacy allows your pharmacist to have a central database of your prescriptions, and they can be more aware of potential drug interactions. Your pharmacist can also conduct a medication review with you. Medication reviews are personalized visits with a pharmacist about your medications in which he or she can make suggestions to help make taking your medication as easy as possible.
Pillboxes with multiple compartments can be helpful for people who need to take several medications at different times throughout the day. It also helps you keep track of what medication you’ve already taken that day, avoiding the possibility of taking more than your prescribed dose. Some pillboxes even work with apps in your smartphone and send you alerts. Some pharmacists may also be able to color code your prescription bottles to help you take them on schedule.
Prescription medication can be expensive—especially if you have to take several medications— and cost is estimated to be the main reason patients don’t take their medication as directed. If cost is a concern for you, talk to your doctor or pharmacist. There may be options available to reduce costs, such as financial aid programs, discount opportunities or opting for generic medications instead of brand-name drugs.
“Juggling Multiple Medications? What You Can Do to Stay Safe.” Must For Seniors.
“Safety Tips for People Taking Multiple Medications.” MedicoRx.
“What you need to know if you’re taking multiple medications.” Harvard Health.
“Cost is the biggest barrier to medication adherence.” CVSHealth.
The Live Better Team
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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.