May 17, 2012

Your Advocacy Connection:Preventing Prescription Pitfalls- Part 2

Toal,-DebBy Deb Toal
GolderCare Solutions

In last month’s article, we talked about preventing prescription pitfalls and Brown Bag medication surveys. So what else can you do to avoid inadvertent medication misuse? Let’s address some additional tips on proper medication usage this month. The following ideas are meant to help you or for those caretakers who are assisting their loved ones with their care needs. These tips can prove useful in preventing medication-related problems.

1. Talk to your physician or your loved one’s doctor. Make sure you understand what is being prescribed, why it is being prescribed, the proper instructions for taking the medicine and the duration of time to take the medicine. It’s also important to know the doctor’s goal for treatment with the prescription and the possible side effects.
2. Be sure to communicate any change in medication to all of the health care providers for the patient. Is it a new drug or was there a change in dosage? This is important information for all of the patient’s healthcare providers.
3. Use the same pharmacy for all of your prescriptions. Talk to your pharmacist about any over-the-counter medications, supplements or herbal supplements you use. Along the same lines, if your doctor helps you by providing free samples of drugs, inform your pharmacist so the pharmacy has a complete list of your medications. If you need an over-the-counter medication, don’t be shy about asking
the pharmacist which over-the-counter drug would be appropriate to use with the other medications you are currently taking.
4. Treat samples from your physician as you would any other medication. Make sure you understand what it is for, its purpose and any potential side effects. Repeat back to the doctor the specific directions on how to take the medicine. It is also helpful to contact your pharmacist to discuss any potential problems of taking the sample medication with your other drugs or herbal supplements.
5. Inform your doctor(s) and pharmacist if there is anything that may help you correctly take your medication. This might include asking for the printed instructions on the bottle to be in large print. If hearing your doctor or pharmacist is a problem, ask for written instructions. Don’t hesitate to ask your pharmacist for caps that you can easily open if arthritis poses an issue for you.
6. After picking up your prescription, read the drug information given to you with your prescription. Restate the instructions to your pharmacist and ask questions. “It says to take with food. Does that mean to take with a cracker or a full meal?”
7. If medication cost is a factor, talk to your doctor. Perhaps there is a generic drug that would be as effective but less expensive. Your pharmacist may be able to advise you in finding ways to lower your costs as well.
8. Follow the medication instructions you were given.
9. When taking your medication, develop a routine to prevent skipped doses. Use memory aids like daily or weekly pill boxes. Associating taking your medicine with specific activities like meal time or the beginning of the news program you watch every evening helps prevent forgotten doses, too.
10. If you think you are having a side effect from a medication, talk to your doctor. Some medicines can’t be abruptly discontinued. In some instances, dosage may need to be adjusted under your doctor’s direction or a different treatment prescribed.11. At least once a year, gather all of your prescription medications, over-the-counter drugs and herbal supplements you are currently taking and place in a bag to review with your doctor(s) and pharmacist. (See the entire article on the Brown Bag Survey in the April 2012 issue of 50+ Lifestyles).

At a time in our life when we are trying to simplify, it seems that for most of us our medication regime becomes more complicated. Whatever the prescription, over-the-counter medication or supplement you might use, follow these recommendations to assure you safely take your medication and receive optimal effectiveness.

Deb Toal is a Care Coordinator at GolderCare Solutions Unlimited. She is an RN with Certifications in Geriatrics and in Dementia Assessment Care & Management. Deb loves the fact that at GolderCare the Solutions truly are Unlimited.