Remembering to Take Medications and Potential Side-Effects

In an earlier post, Dr. Mary Tuuk discussed the vast numbers of prescription and over-the-counter medications that older adults take to control various conditions.

Today, I’m going to build on that topic by discussing the ways older adults and caregivers can monitor medications and ensure they’re taken as prescribed. Taking medications as prescribed is extremely important. Not doing so “may waste as much as $258 billion a year by not taking prescribed medications because the missed doses lead to emergency room visits, doctors’ visits and in-patient hospitalizations,” according to USA Today.

Many of us, young and old, simply forget to take prescription medications. But there are few things we can do to lessen the chance that will happen.

Try to take medications at the same time each day and the same place. For example, take medications after dinner in the kitchen.

Using a pill minder is a great way to keep track of the medications you have taken and those you need to take. These plastic pill boxes are labeled with the days of the week and are inexpensive. Here are a few more great ideas to help you or your loved one remember to take medications.

Besides forgetting to take medications, the side-effects caused by those medications often make people less apt to take them. Many medications have side-effects; some side-effects are mild while others are severe. The average medication has 70 side-effects with some drugs having more than 500.

So it’s important to be aware of those side-effects and have a plan in place with your provider on how to deal with them. I recommend something called a “Brown Bag Biopsy.” Load all of your medications—prescription and over-the-counter—into a shopping bag and bring them to your provider for review.

Doing so will help your provider understand all the medications you take, potential side-effects and other issues. With this new information you and your provider can discuss side-effects and other issues and make a conscious choice about your health.

Lisa Price_2014_SmLisa Price, M.D. is an expert in the care of older adults and lead medical director at InnovAge




This InnovAge blog is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding your health or medical needs.

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