The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released the 4 Medication Safety Tips for Older Adults this week. This consumer update addresses four key points to help people better manage their health in regards to medication intake.
Number 1-Establish an open dialog with your physician/physicians. This is critical for a variety of reasons. First, health care providers prescribe medications based on ailments/diagnosis and also other medications and over the counter supplements you may be taking. Take all medications as prescribed and consult with the prescribing physician if you feel you are having side effects, have questions about the medication, or before you consider skipping a dose or stopping a medication. Finally, never take medications that are not prescribed for you as it could interact with other things you are taking and can be dangerous and possibly life-threatening.
Number 2-Medication lists are vital when attending medical appointments. They are also important to keep in your wallet in case of emergency. Always list all medications and how you take them. (It is a good idea to place a date on the emergency list as a reminder to keep it up to date.) Also, include medications you take occasionally as well as any over the counter medications and supplements. If this seems overwhelming, simply take all of them with you to your next appointment. Place the daily medications in one bag and occasional medications/supplements in another bag and ask the office personnel to make a photocopy of the list for you to keep in your wallet.
Number3-Read the insert that comes with all medications and supplements. Knowledge is power. This will help with the questions of how the medication works, what it is for, when and how it should be taken, and possible side effects or interactions. No health care provider would ever intentionally prescribe the wrong medication for someone, but it can happen. Educate yourself and contact the prescribing physician if you have questions.
Number 4-Proactively discuss all medications and supplements with your health care provider at each visit. If monetary constraints prevent the purchase of medications, ask if there are generic options or patient assistance plans that can be utilized to obtain medications.
Ultimately, being proactive and educating yourself about your medications, and why they are needed leads a person to be more responsible for their personal health outcomes.