Mastering Medication Management

It is difficult to overstate the importance of medication safety for older adults. According to the National Institutes of Health, adverse reactions and medication errors cost our healthcare system $40 billion each year, with more than 7 million patients affected. Worse, these problems are fatal for between 7,000 and 9,000 people annually. 

As we get older, we may be dealing with multiple health conditions. Older adults need to have a clear understanding of what medications they have been prescribed and how to take them as directed while avoiding side effects from other medications or supplements. Here are a few tips.  

Understanding medication management

Managing your medications is about making sure you take them safely and responsibly. It’s important to keep track of what you’re taking, why you’re taking it, and how it affects you. Especially as you get older and might be taking more than one medication, managing them well helps avoid problems like bad reactions between drugs, side effects, and making sure the treatment works. 

Here are some tips to help you manage your medications effectively: 

  • Keep a list of your medications: Write down all the medications you take, including how much, how often, and why you take them. Update this list whenever something changes, like starting or stopping a medication. You can use a paper list or an app on your phone or smartwatch. Some doctors also have online portals where you can see your medication list. 
  • Know your medications: Understand what each medication is for, what side effects it might have, and how it might interact with other medications you’re taking. Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor or pharmacist if you’re not sure about something. 
  • Stick to a routine: Take your medications at the same time every day to make sure you don’t forget. You can use pill organizers or apps to help you remember. Some services even deliver pre-packaged medications to your door, but make sure to check if your insurance covers them. 
  • Talk to your healthcare providers: Keep your doctor and pharmacist informed about how you’re feeling and if you notice any changes or side effects. Also, let them know about any vitamins or supplements you’re taking. 
  • Follow your prescriptions: Take your medications exactly as your doctor tells you to. Don’t change your dosage or stop taking a medication without talking to your doctor first. 
  • Get regular check-ups: Schedule appointments with your doctor or pharmacist to review your medications. They can make sure everything is working well and make adjustments if needed. 
  • Stay safe with your medications: Keep them in a safe place away from kids and pets. Dispose of any medications you don’t need anymore, and don’t share prescriptions with others. The FDA can help you find places to safely dispose of old medications.

By managing your medications well, you can take charge of your health and make sure your treatments work as they should. 

This article is not intended to replace the advice of your healthcare provider.