Manage Your Prescription Medications

By Nutrition Expert – Trupti Gurav,Mumbai

As people age, it’s not uncommon for doctors to prescribe a complex series of medications to manage existing health conditions and prevent new ones from arising. While these medications may be helpful, the task of remembering which medications to take every day can be overwhelming for seniors.

Medication management plays a vital part in managing a health condition. Missed doses or improper use can be very harmful. If you’re a caregiver to a loved one, that person is depending on you to ensure that they take the medications they need to take when they’re supposed to take them. [1]

Questions to ask every time you get a new prescription [3]

  1. Why are you prescribing this drug?
  2. How is it supposed to treat my condition?
  3. Has it been tested and found to be safe and effective for people my age?
  4. What side effects might it have, and what should I do if I have any of them?
  5. At what dose are you starting me, and why?
  6. Will you eventually increase or lower the dose?
  7. Is there a lower-cost generic alternative to this drug available?
  8. Can you put me on a drug regimen that will be easier for me to take (for example, once a day instead of several times a day)?
  9. For how long do you want me to take this medicine?
  10. What should I do when the medicine runs out? Will I need to refill the prescription, and if so, how can I get the new prescription from you?

Learn about your medication

If you think you might have trouble understanding your doctor or pharmacist, ask a friend or loved one to go with you to listen, help you and take notes. [4]

  1. What is the name of the medicine?
  2. Is this the brand or generic name?
  3. What is the medicine supposed to do?
  4. How and when do I take it, and for how long?
  5. What is one dose?
  6. Should I take it with food or on an empty stomach?
  7. What foods, drinks, other medicines or activities should I avoid while taking this medicine?
  8. Is there any written information available about the medicine?
  9. What happens if I miss a dose of my medicine?
  10. How often will I have to get the medication refilled?
  11. How will I know that my medication is working?
  12. What are the risks of taking this medication?
  13. What are the risks of NOT taking this medication?
  14. Are there less expensive medications for my condition? Can these questions be sent to a cell phone?

Manage Your Prescription Medications [5] [6]

Follow these tips for keeping your prescription medications organized:

  • Make a list – Keep an updated list of all your over the counter and prescription medications with you at all times so you can share it with each member of your health care team when you go to doctor visits and get prescriptions filled. Include the name of each medication you are taking, along with the dosage information and the reason you are taking it.
  • Maintain a prescription medication file- After you read the written material that accompanies your prescription medication, file it in a place where you can find it easily should you ever have questions about dosage or side effects.
  • Use one pharmacy – If possible, have all of your medications filled at the same pharmacy, so that your pharmacist can track them all and alert you to possible drug interactions.
  • Use a Daily Pill Organizer- A pill organizer can be very helpful if you take many types of medications each day. It has seven or more compartments that hold each day’s worth of medication. To ensure medication is taken on a timely basis, keep a dosage schedule nearby that also includes a physical description of each pill, such as “blue capsule” or “large white pill.”
  • Create a Dosing Schedule Chart – Another way to effectively manage medication is to create a medication dosage schedule chart. This can be done on your computer with a spreadsheet or word processing program. List all medications, the times they need to be taken, and space by each dose, so you can check off when each is taken.
  • Use a Medication App- if you use a smartphone or tablet, there are a wide variety of apps that can help you manage your medications. They include those where you can look up information about the drug, set up your medication schedule and get reminders to take your pills. Here is a list of 10 apps to choose from, all free. 
  • Check Prescription Labels Often – When looking at prescription labels, check the expiration date and refill information. Properly discard old medication. When running low on a medication that has a refill, call your pharmacist before you run out. This way you will not miss any doses. If you think you may need a refill on a medication that has no refills left, call your doctor’s office as soon as possible to allow time for the doctor to call the pharmacist.
  • Use a Pill Reminder Gadget or App There are several electronic pill reminders on the market of varying prices. You can input the name of the medication, how often you need to take it, and if you need to take it with food. An alarm will sound, much like an alarm clock or cell phone ringer, alerting you to what medication needs to be taken and how much. There are some electronic pill reminders that “talk,” relaying information verbally. You can also set up pill reminders with apps for your smartphone or tablet. But if you are old-school, these stand-alone devices may work better for you.

Sorting out your medications may seem difficult, but a little planning and organization can ensure you take the right medications at the right times, helping you live a longer and healthier life.



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