The older you get, the more likely you are to use additional medicines, which can increase the chance of harmful drug effects, including interactions.We will discuss medication safety tips for older adults
And, as you age, physical changes can affect the way medicines are handled by your body, leading to potential complications. For instance, your liver and kidneys may not work as well, which affects how a drug breaks down and leaves your body.
Whether you’re settling into your sixties or heading into your ninth decade, be careful when taking prescription and over-the-counter medicines, herbal preparations, and supplements. And if you’re caring for older loved ones, help them stay safe, too.
1. Take Medicine as Prescribed—with Input from Your Health Care Provider
Take your medicine regularly and according to your health care provider’s instructions.
Don’t take prescription medications that your health care provider has not prescribed for you. And don’t skip doses or stop taking medication without first consulting with your provider. (This holds true even if you’re feeling better or if you think the medicine isn’t working). And if you’re having bothersome side effects or have other questions, talk to your provider.
2. Keep a Medication List
Write down what you’re taking and keep the list with you. Make sure your medication list is up-to-date, and includes any changes made by your health care provider. Consider giving a copy to a friend or loved one that you trust—important especially in case of emergency and when you’re traveling.
Your list should include the medicine’s brand name, if applicable, and generic name. Also write down why you’re taking each medication, the dosage (for instance, 300 mg), and how often you take it.
3. Be Aware of Potential Drug Interactions and Side Effects
Interactions can occur when:
- One drug affects how another drug works;
- A medical condition you have makes a certain drug potentially harmful;
- An herbal preparation or supplement affects the action of a drug;
- A food or non-alcoholic drink reacts with a drug;
- An alcoholic drink interacts with a drug.
Your task? Learn about possible interactions and the potential side effects of your medications. You can do this by carefully reading drug facts labels on over-the-counter drugs (OTC) and the information that comes with your prescription medications, and by reviewing any special instructions with your health care provider. For instance, nitroglycerin, which treats angina (chest pain related to heart disease), should not be taken with many erectile dysfunction drugs, including Viagra and Cialis, because serious interactions can occur. Some drugs should not be taken with alcohol, as problems such as loss of coordination, memory problems, sleepiness, and falls can result.
Article Credit: USFDA