Knowing Your Medications

It is a common occurrence for seniors to be hospitalized due to an injury or illness, discharged and then readmitted shortly thereafter for the same problem.

Research has shown that when seniors are discharged with a “to-do” list, such as scheduling a follow up visit to their physician or getting a new list of prescriptions filled, the list often does not get done.

While it is important to address all items on the discharge list, understanding one’s medications and taking them precisely as prescribed should be at the top of the list.

Seniors often take many medications, multiple times each day. Understanding a complex medication regimen can be difficult at any age.

A physician, pharmacist, or other health care professional can be great resources in helping a senior understand her medications. While it is important to know who to turn to for answers, it is even more important to know the right questions to ask.

Getting answers to the questions below should help a senior understand her medications. Following a prescribed medication regimen should prove helpful in maintaining a senior’s health and reducing or even preventing hospitalizations.

  1.  Why was the medication prescribed?
  2.  What is the correct dose to take and how often should it be taken?
  3.  How should I use the medicine (taken orally or by administering to some part of the body such as skin, ears or eyes)?
  4.  What should I do if I miss a dose?
  5.  Should the medication be taken with food?
  6.  How long will I be taking this medication?
  7.  When should the medicine begin to make me feel better?
  8.  What should I do if the medicine doesn’t seem to be working?
  9.  What side effects might I experience and what should I do if they occur?
  10.  Are there specific precautions I need to take while on this medication,   such as avoiding driving or consuming alcohol?
  11.  How should I store the medicine?
  12.  What should I do when all of the medication has been taken (get a refill or schedule a follow-up visit with my physician)?
  13. Are there other special instructions about how to use the medicine?