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Whether or not you’ve been taking medication for years, you need to pay attention to medication safety when taking any kind of medication, including prescribed drugs, over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, supplements, and herbal preparations.

Why Medication Safety Is Especially Important as You Age

As you grow older, you are more likely to use a variety of medications, which can increase the odds of harmful side effects and adverse interactions with other medications. Also, physical changes may mean your body can’t handle medications as effectively as when you were younger. With this in mind, here are some important medication safety tips:

Take Medicines Only as Prescribed

Take your medications regularly per your healthcare provider’s instructions. If you are feeling better or think your prescribed medicine isn’t working, don’t skip doses or stop taking it altogether without first consulting your doctor.

Whatever you do, don’t take any medication prescribed for someone else, even though you may think your symptoms are similar. This can result in unexpected side effects or reactions.

  • Click here for ways to help you remember when to take your medications.

Be Aware of Potential Side Effects and Interactions

Interactions can occur because:

  • A medical condition makes certain medications potentially harmful.
  • A supplement or herbal preparation adversely affects a medication.
  • A certain food or drink (alcohol or non-alcoholic) reacts with a medication. (Even grapefruit juice can affect how well some medicines work and may cause dangerous side effects.)

Carefully read the information provided with your prescription medicines and the labels on OTC products. Also, understand that some medications can cause side effects similar to other health problems occurring in seniors – memory difficulties, dizziness, drowsiness. Ask your healthcare provider if any new health problems could be due to your medications.

Store Medications Properly

Improperly stored medications may not work correctly or even cause harm, so follow the specific storage instructions for each medication. Unless there are different instructions, medications should be kept in a cool, dry place such as a closet shelf, high dresser drawer, or kitchen cabinet away from hot appliances and sinks.

Check Expiration Dates

Keep an eye on expiration dates, especially if you have infrequently used medications. For example, don’t use aspirin that expired years ago. Degraded medicine might not provide the intended benefit and may generate toxicity that could result in unwanted side effects.

  • Click here for how to properly dispose of expired and unused medicine.

Keep an Up-to-Date Medication List

Your list should include:

  • The brand and generic name of each prescription medicine.
  • OTC medicines, supplements, and herbal preparations you take.
  • The reason for each medication.
  • The dosage and how often you take it.
  • The phone number of the pharmacy where your prescriptions are filled.

Keep your list with you and give a copy to a loved one or trusted friend who can act in case of emergency or when you’re traveling. For more than one healthcare provider, provide each one with your list.

Schedule a regular medication review with your healthcare providers. This can help reduce your risk for side effects, avoid medication interactions, and lessen costs.

Use In-Home Healthcare for Medication Safety

If you are getting on in years, it may be becoming more difficult to ensure you are taking your medications properly. An in-home caregiver can be invaluable with respect to keeping you on your medication track. If you live in Columbia, SC, Caring Healthcare can provide you with an experienced caregiver who will ensure you don’t miss your medications ever again. Please contact us for more information.