Medication Guide for Seniors

Older individuals need to give extra attention to any medications they may take. The body’s response to medication changes as you age and a medication may affect you differently at 70 than when you were 40. The most important step to take is to know what medications you are taking and to be certain every doctor you see knows about any medications that are prescribed by other doctors. Making a list of your medications, the dosages and times taken each day is a helpful tool to keep with you when you visit the doctor and pharmacy. Additional tips are listed below.

  • Know what medicines you are taking and why you are taking them. Always read the medication labels and other information available from your pharmacy, such as package inserts. If you have any questions, be sure to ask and keep asking until you feel confident you have the answers you need.

  • Tell all of your doctors all of your medications. Keeping a list with you will be helpful and include on your list the name of the drug, the dose, how often the medication is to be taken and any effects you have noticed when taking the medication.

  • Know what you are allergic to and tell your doctor and pharmacist. Most pharmacies keep track of this information by computer and can help you avoid taking a medication that could harm you. 

  • Talk to your doctor about how medications affect you. Remember, there may be numerous alternative medications your doctor can prescribe if you are not comfortable with the way you feel on the first one the doctor prescribes.

  • Keep your doctor appointments when they are scheduled. Often, your body’s response to a medication will require monitoring by laboratory tests of blood or urine, or by keeping a recent EKG on record.

  • If you have difficulty remembering to take medications at the appropriate times each day, use a calendar or daily medication kit to aid your memory and to help anyone who may be assisting you in daily care activities.

  • Clean out your medicine storage area at least once each year. Throw out all medications you are no longer taking and any medications that have expired. Dispose of these medications in the toilet or sink, as placing them in a trash receptacle could result in pets or children finding them.

  • Use your medication list to review your medicines each year with your doctor.

  • Keep your medicines out of reach of any children who may visit.

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