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What Do We Need to Know about Medication Safety?

Medication safety for seniors is an important issue. As we get older, the number of medications we take often increases dramatically, while the aging process works against us to make keeping track of those medications more difficult. Prescription safety should be a top priority for older adults and their caretakers.

Elderly man taking medication.

5 Tips for Medication Safety

  1. Keep a List: This is one of those simple but vital tips. People aged 65–69 fill an average of 14 prescriptions per year.1 To avoid possible side effects and interactions, it is vital that you know what you or your loved one is taking and who is prescribing it. It is also vital that you share this information with any doctors.
  2. Read Labels and Prescription Leaflets Thoroughly: Not only should you know what you’re taking, but you should also know why you’re taking it and what possible side effects you should look out for. The pharmacy should be providing you with printed information when you fill prescriptions, so read that literature.
  3. Follow Directions Exactly: Medications should always be taken as prescribed. Don’t take more (or less) than instructed and don’t change the times you take them without consulting with your doctor or pharmacist first. Drugs can have unforeseen interactions and side effects when dosages are changed.
  4. Participate in Regular Medication Therapy Management Sessions with Your Pharmacist: Medication therapy management (MTM) is a consultation service provided by pharmacists. It typically involves sitting down with the pharmacist and going over all the medications you’re currently taking so that you can gain a clear understanding of what you take and why. It is also a good chance to look for drugs that you may no longer need to take or to bring up medications you feel aren’t working properly. Most major pharmacies offer medication therapy management—and it should be a regular part of medication management for seniors.
  5. Ask Questions: If you are unsure about anything, from what a drug does to whether you still need to be taking it, don’t hesitate to ask. Pill safety is a team effort between you, your doctors, and your pharmacist, so it’s important that you play your part by clarifying issues and speaking up.

If you need further help managing your prescriptions or that of someone in your care, you may want to invest in a smart medication tracking device. Check out our pill tracker guide to learn more.

  1. Medscape, “Which Drugs Should Be Deprescribed in the Elderly?

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