Why older adults should review their medications

Why older adults should review their medications

St Joseph Hoag Health is here to help

You know the routine:

Step 1: Get your prescription from your physician.

Step 2: Get it filled by your pharmacist.

But do you know about Step 3?

Step 3: Have your medications reviewed once a year or more.

Everyone who takes medication has good reason to periodically ask their pharmacist or health care provider to review the medications they are taking. This is particularly important for older adults.

Your body changes as you age. Your drugs may interact differently, especially if you’ve added or subtracted one recently. And your diet or alcohol intake may have changed.

As the U.S. Food & Drug Administration says: “It is important to be aware that more use of medicines and normal body changes caused by aging can increase the chance of unwanted or maybe even harmful drug interactions.”

Tips for avoiding prescription problems

The National Council on Patient Information and Education offers a checklist to help you maximize the benefits of your medications while avoiding errors:

  • When your doctor writes a prescription, make sure you can read it, because if you can’t, it’s possible your pharmacist won’t be able to either. Perhaps your doctor can enter your prescription electronically.
  • Make sure you can understand the instructions your doctor and your pharmacist give you so you can avoid mistakes.
  • When you pick up or are given your medication, confirm that it’s the medication your physician prescribed.
  • If you’re getting liquid medicine, ask your pharmacist for the best device, such as a marked cup or oral plastic syringe, to get the proper dose.
  • Make sure your doctor and pharmacist know about any allergies or adverse reactions you’ve had to medicines.
  • Read about the potential side effects of your medication on the information sheets that come with your medicine. You may need to recognize them if you experience one later.
  • Make sure all your providers know all the medicines you’re taking, including over-the-counter pain relievers, dietary supplements and vitamins.

The Council also notes that some errors, such as taking someone else’s medication or mismeasuring a dose, most often occur at home. In some cases, a person may take more than one medication with the same active ingredient.

For example, if you’re taking a prescription pain medicine with acetaminophen, and then take an over-the-counter medication that also contains acetaminophen, you could exceed the recommended dose and damage your liver.

If you need to dispose of expired or unwanted medications, turn them in safely on the DEA’s National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, October 26, 2019 or find a year-round authorized collection site near you.

Talk to the Experts

But before you make any moves, it’s a good idea to talk to the experts. Signing up for the right Medicare plan can be confusing and, although we may wish they didn’t, plans change from year to year.

To help you, St. Joseph Hoag Health, Orange County’s most trusted health care network, provides extensive resources and information about your Medicare options. You don’t even have to be a current patient to take advantage of our no cost offerings. This year, you can:

  • Seminar - Attend one of our conveniently located meetings throughout open enrollment where representatives from our partner health plans will discuss 2020 benefits. Feel free to bring a friend or family member with you.
  • Phone - Arrange a phone call or meeting with a trusted, independent licensed agent about your Medicare options. After October 15, you can even enroll in coverage right over the phone.
  • Online - Compare our contracted health plans’ 2020 benefits online by visiting our website at sjhh.org/medicare.

All these options are at no cost to you and will help guide you in making the best Medicare choices for your 2020 coverage. To get started and RSVP for a meeting, call (855) 670-1938 or visit sjhh.org/medicare.

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