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Managing Your Meds: What To Do When Prescribed A Medication

Managing Your Meds: What To Do When Prescribed A Medication

By Susan Williams

Would you be surprised to know that nearly 70% of people over the age of 65 take five or more medications? And almost 10% take 15 or more? Or that more than half of all prescription medications are prescribed to people over 60?

All of this medication use can result in some serious complications as reported by the AAFP. For example; “One in six hospital admissions of older adults is because of an adverse drug event, a proportion that is four times that of younger persons.”

Dr. Rhonda Collins, Chief Medical Officer at Revera knows this situation very well and is trying to change it.

I met Dr. Collins at the IFA’s Global Conference on Ageing. She was presenting at the conference and the subject she was discussing was the over use of prescription medications for older people.

As I listened to Dr. Collins I couldn’t help but feel her passion for this topic. I thought the information she was sharing was critical for baby boomers to know.

So we met after the conference and decided we would work together to help increase people’s knowledge of what to do when they are prescribed a medication.

Today we are launching the first in a three part series we are calling “Managing Your Meds“.

In this first segment we discuss why personal medication management is so important, what questions should someone ask their physicians and pharmacists when they are prescribed a medication and any other actions they should take or be aware of.

This information is provided for 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 of our discussion;

Personal Medication Management Is Important

  • Nearly 70% of people over the age of 65 take five or more medications and almost 10% take 15 or more. The use of this many medications put them at higher risk of harm from side effects. This is often referred to as polypharmacy – which is the concurrent use of 4 of more medications
  • We need to be aware of what medications we are taking because as we age, our bodies change. We are not able to metabolize medications the way that we may have been able to when we were younger
  • The more medications we take, the greater the likelihood for a potential interaction between medications.
  • Each medication comes with it’s own list of adverse reactions. Not everyone experiences adverse reactions but there is the potential – and for some people it can be serious
  • Being aware of what you medications you are taking is incredibly important

Questions to Ask Your Doctor When Prescribed a Medication

  • The first question to ask is “Do I really need it” and “What are the benefits and risks of this medication
  • Also ask if an alternative strategy is possible. For example, if a lifestyle change was made such as controlling your diet or increasing exercise, could this change the need for medication
  • These conversations and decisions need to be had between the patient and physician to decide what the best approach is for each individual. This is called “shared decision making“.

Pharmacists Play an Important Role As Well

  • Questions to ask your pharmacist should include what are the risks and benefits and potential side effects
  • For side effects, also ask what is the most common side effect and the most serious side effect. Without knowing this information, this can often cause additional problems to arise as a side effect may be confused as another symptom and as a result, another medication could potentially be prescribed to treat this
  • You also need to ask the pharmacist how to take the medication. For example, what time of day, with or without food, what specific dosage all should be explained and understood
  • It is critical that both your physician and pharmacist are aware of all the medications you are taking including over the counter medications (such as Tylenol or cough syrups), supplements, vitamins, and any naturopathic medicines. All of these could potentially interact with prescribed medications
  • It is strongly recommended that you use one pharmacist and one pharmacy provider so that they can keep track of all your medications
  • You should make a habit of occasionally reviewing your medication use with either your pharmacist or physician

Please be sure to join us for our next Managing Your Meds segment where Dr. Collins and I will discuss the things you should be aware of while taking medications.

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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.