For many seniors, taking medications becomes part of daily life in order to manage certain health conditions that often come with getting older. While some seniors may view being prescribed a drug as a negative thing, many medications can help extend one’s life and improve overall health. Whether you’ve been taking a medication for years or were recently prescribed a medication, it’s important that you know how to take your medications safely and properly. Follow these medication safety tips to avoid serious complications:
Know What You’re Taking
When your doctor prescribes you any kind of medication, short or long term, it’s important to learn as much as you can about your medication. At your appointment, it’s a good idea to take notes and jot down any questions you may have, as well as any information he or she gives you. If you’re afraid you may not understand or remember what your doctor is telling you about your medication, bring someone with you to the appointment. Here are some questions you should ask before taking your medication:
Why am I taking this medicine and what/how is it treating?
Are there any side effects? How will I feel? How will I know if it’s working?
What happens if I skip a dosage? Do I have to take it at the same time every day?
How should I take it? With food? On an empty stomach?
Are there less expensive, generic brands that work the same?
A good rule of thumb is to ask as many questions as you have and don’t leave your appointment until you feel completely informed. It’s likely that questions or concerns may come up as you take the medication, so keep track of those questions as well and save them for your next appointment or call your doctor.
Don’t Forget Your Other Medications
New medications may interact negatively with other medications you may be taking so it’s important that your doctor knows of all drugs you take from prescribed to OTC to supplements. In addition to be aware of any side effects, it’s important to know if the new medication (when taken with or without other medications) will impair your driving, can be taken with alcohol, or may worsen other medical conditions. Sometimes, even a particular food should be avoided when taking a medication so be sure to read all instructions and warnings carefully.
Keep in Contact with Your Doctor
Once you start taking a new medication, it’s important to stay in contact with your doctor. Even if you start to experience some of the “expected” side effects, it’s a good idea to keep track of how you feel (physically, mentally, emotionally) when you take your medication. If you don’t like how you feel, do not stop taking medication on your own. Always talk with your doctor before changing a dosage and an abrupt stop on a medication can cause serious health problems.