Prescription Medication: Keeping Seniors Safe and Sound
Medication: The Doís and Doníts
prescription medications, your senior should do the following:
pharmacist who keeps a "drug profile" for customers and who will alert
you to any prescription medication interaction problems. Also,
continue comparing prices at other pharmacies as your pharmacist may
match a cheaper price at another drugstore if you're a regular
Ask your doctor to
write the purpose of the medication on the prescription so that the
pharmacist can then type it on the label, helping to reduce the chance
of accidental mix-ups. Most pharmacists will also write the
expiration date of the prescription medication if asked to.
Ask the pharmacist
for easy open caps, large print labels, and sometimes oversize bottles
may be necessary.
prescription medications before leaving the pharmacy. Make sure that
the correct patient's name is on the bottle and the directions are
consistent with what the doctor told you.
Ask the pharmacist
if your pill box or pill organizer will affect the stability of the
You should also
talk with your doctor and pharmacist about whether crushing pills or
putting them in liquid or applesauce affects the medication, making
them less effective.
Always read the
medicine container before each dose.
Always take all
medications as prescribed. A recent report found that nearly 25% of
all admissions to nursing homes were due to elders not following the
prescribed medication therapeutic regimen.
Things your loved
ones should not do when taking prescription medications:
Never put drugs in
different bottles then what they were originally prescribed in. When
medications are in different bottles, it's hard to remember what they
are for or how they should be taken. Also, the original bottles are
tinted or opaque to keep out damaging sunlight.
in advance. When the doctor has approved taking half a pill, ask the
pharmacist whether splitting medications in advance will have an
effect on the drug. (Most large pharmacies sell tablet cutters for
Chew or break
pills unless directed.
You should never
take anyone else's prescription medication.
Never drive when
there's a warning on the medications saying that it may cause
drowsiness or fatigue.
Never modify the
dosage without consulting your physician.
medications even if you feel better. This is especially true for
antibiotics. Quitting before the pills are taken completely may cause
an increase in antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria. Also, abrupt
discontinuation of medications may cause unpleasant and possibly
dangerous withdrawal symptoms. Your physician always needs be notified
when medications are discontinued before the prescribed time.
Do not accumulate
old prescription medications. Unused medicines make the proper
management of medications more difficult. The best way to dispose of
prescription medications is by flushing them down the toilet, which
will ensure that children, pets or others will not find them in the
trash and be harmed by them in any way.
A summary of
final recommendations for using prescription medications properly
is on the following page.
Information from Eldercare
for Dummies by Rachelle Zukerman
Additional information and webpage by
Paul Susic M.A. Licensed
Psychologist Ph.D Candidate (Health and Geriatric Psychologist)