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Managing Your Meds: What To Be Aware of When Discontinuing Medications

Managing Your Meds: What To Be Aware of When Discontinuing Medications

By Susan Williams

As we shared in our earlier Managing Your Meds posts, the use of prescription medications for older adults is extremely high.

The CMAJ shared that an estimated 70% of people over 65 take five or more medications and almost 10% taking 15 or more. This use of medication can place older people in a much higher risk of harm from side effects and also for hospitalization.

Sometimes medications may no longer be required or should be reviewed and possibly discontinued. However there are appropriate ways to approach this.

In our third and final segment of our Managing Your Meds series, we discuss with Dr. Rhonda Collins, Chief Medical Officer at Revera, what to be aware of when discontinuing medications.

Also watch:

This information is provided for strictly informational purposes only. You should always consult with your doctor or other healthcare professional regarding your personal situation.

Here is our discussion:

These are some of the highlights from our conversation;

Stopping Medications

  • Before discontinuing or stopping the use of any medication, it is strongly recommended that you discuss this with your doctor before doing so
  • If you feel that a medication is no longer providing benefit to you or no longer working for you, or that it is potentially interacting with some of your medications, you should discuss these situations with your physician. The questions you may want to ask are;
    • Do I still need this medication?
    • Is it still providing benefit?
    • Is it safe to stop taking this medication?
    • Is there a risk of recurrence of symptoms if I stop this medication?
    • Is it a good idea to stop this medication?
      • And if yes, how do you properly stop taking this medication?
  • It is extremely important that you discuss the proper way to discontinue a medication with your doctor and also possibly your pharmacist because although some medications can be just stopped, others need to be tapered down and without doing this tapering down properly there can be some serious symptoms and effects.

Medications for Chronic Disease

  • When someone is prescribed a medication for a chronic disease, it does not necessarily mean they will need to take it the rest of their lives
    • Information changes on a daily basis and medications that were possibly prescribed many years ago may no longer provide any benefit or may no longer be necessary
    • As we age, our bodies change along with how they react to medications. A different dosage or target may be required
    • Any changes need to be discussed with a physician to ensure that people are managing their medications appropriately for their personal situation
  • People over the age of 65 are the largest consumers of medications however the guidelines that doctors often are using are recommended and tested by younger people. This is why any changes needs to be monitored and discussed with a physician

Final Advice in Managing Your Medications

  • When prescribed a medication, you should really discuss and understand from your physician what the medication is, why you are taking it, how long you need to be on it (is it short term or long term), what is the dosage, how it should be taken along with what are the potential side effects
  • You should always ensure that the medications are safely stored (both with appropriate labeling and also out of reach from any children or grandchildren)
  • Only take your own medications and never take someone else’s medications. Your physician knows your health history and should prescribe medications specifically for you based on this
  • Know and keep a current list of all your medications and build a good, collaborative relationship with your physician

I would like to thank Dr. Collins for sharing her time and expertise with us and hope that you found this Learning Bites Series on Managing Your Meds valuable.

Here’s to living your best Booming Encore!

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Susan Williams is the Founder of Booming Encore. Being a Boomer herself, Susan loves to discover and share ways to live life to the fullest. She shares her experiences, observations and opinions on living life after 50 and tries to embrace Booming Encore's philosophy of making sure every day matters.
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