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Prescription Medication: You have to get it right

Prescription medications: What you must do 

In order to really get a handle on your seniorís prescription medications, you must find out all of the over-the-counter drugs, prescription medications, herbs, vitamins, minerals and any other dietary supplements they may be taking.  This project may be as simple as lining up medications on the counter and reviewing labels or finding prescription medications in various locations throughout the house. 

Once you have gathered all their prescription medications, you then need to make a chart documenting everything your elder must know about the drugs that they are currently taking. Make an appointment with your seniorís primary care doctor to review all the prescription medicines and help you fill in any missing information on the drugs on the medication charts you created.  Frequently, the primary physician may be unaware of prescription medications prescribed by other doctors, over-the-counter drugs, and even dietary supplements which are being used by your elder, which may put them in a dangerous situation.  

When you go to the doctor's office, ask your elderís physician the following questions about their prescription medications: 

  • Do my records match with your records?

  • Can any of these prescription medications be reduced or eliminated?

  • Will mixing any of these drugs, vitamins or herbal remedies cause an adverse drug interaction?

  • Is it safe to drink any alcohol (which is also a drug) with these prescription medications?

  • Are any of these drugs habit-forming?

  • Are there any generics available (which are usually significantly cheaper) in this same class of medication available for my loved one?

You should update this prescription medication chart every time a new remedy is introduced and take it along to their appointment (including with specialists).  If a specialist prescribes a new prescription medication you should inform your elderís primary doctor. 

You should always keep the prescription medication chart in a place where emergency  medical personnel can easily find or see it (for example, on the refrigerator door held with a magnet). 

Once the prescription medications are organized and reviewed, it doesn't matter if other individuals are involved in the process of administering the medications according to the medication schedule. However, they should always follow the strategies outlined on the next page: Prescription Medications: Keeping Seniors Safe and Sound

Some information from Eldercare for Dummies by Rachelle Zukerman

Additional information and webpage by Paul Susic Ph.D.. Licensed Psychologist  (Health and Geriatric Psychologist) 

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