Those 65 years and older account for 34% of all prescription medication use. As we age, the likelihood of needing multiple medications increases. With that in mind, medication safety is a crucial aspect that can help protect you or a family member from misusing a medication.
The more medications an individual takes, the more he or she is at risk of misusing, improperly storing, or confusing medicine. Brickmont Assisted Living, with senior living communities through Georgia, would like to share six tips that promote health and medication safety.
1. Keep a Medication List
A simple medication safety tip is to create a comprehensive list of all the medicine you or a family member takes. This list should be kept up-to-date and include prescribed and over-the-counter medications, as well as supplements.
The list should include details, such as the medication’s name, dosage, how often the medicine is taken, and any other pertinent information. This will be a valuable asset for healthcare providers who are prescribing medications to ensure no drug interactions occur.
2. Know the Side Effects
While medicine is intended to alleviate symptoms or combat health conditions, it can have adverse side effects. Medication side effects can range from minor discomfort (upset stomach, headache, etc.) to more severe symptoms that can impact physical and mental health.
A healthcare provider should go over any potential side effects when prescribing a medication. Still, our medication safety tip is to make sure it is discussed and to immediately notify your doctor should you notice any new or worsening symptoms.
3. Thoroughly Read the Instructions
Reading the instructions is one of the most important rules of medication safety. These instructions provide vital information regarding the medication, such as when to take it, how to take it, or what one should or shouldn’t do while under the influence of the medication. If you or a family member do not read the instructions, you risk misusing the medication or reducing its effectiveness.
4. Proper Storage
The method of storing one’s medications is a vital part of medication safety, but it’s one that many may not consider, so be sure to read the storage instructions on the bottle or box. For example, some medicines may need to be stored under a certain temperature, making areas like the bathroom (which can become overheated and humid) a less than ideal location.
5. Presort Medications
One way to ensure you or a family member takes medication properly is to sort out pills and medicines for the week using an organized container. This medication safety tip will help you or a family member keep track of medications throughout the day and the week, helping to avoid missed doses or overdoses.
6. Review Medications with a Doctor Regularly
If you or a family member have been using a certain medication for an extended period of time or have multiple medications, it is easy to get confused or forget why a specific medicine is being taken. It is encouraged to speak openly and regularly with your doctor or healthcare provider regarding all medications to confirm each one is still necessary and effective. This also helps to ensure no negative drug interactions occur should new medicines be added to the regimen.
Stopping & Properly Disposing of Medications
If you or a family member no longer need to take a specific medication, be sure to confirm with a healthcare professional that it is safe to do so. Some medicines can cause adverse reactions if you stop taking them abruptly.
Once successfully off a medication, be sure to dispose of it safely. The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) offers valuable resources regarding the disposal of medications. “The best way to dispose of most types* of old, unused, unwanted, or expired medicines (both prescription and over-the-counter) is to drop off the medicine at a drug take-back site, location, or program immediately (fda.gov).”
Medication safety is about being organized, smart, and understanding the medication you or a family member is handling/taking. Be sure to discuss new medications and keep healthcare professionals informed regarding any new developments.
If you found this blog informative and are looking for more resources regarding safety and health, we encourage you to visit our Brickmont Assisted Living blog!