The Do’s and Don’ts of Medication Management
Being diagnosed with a health condition (be it a chronic illness, disability, or even a temporary sickness) can be a hard pill to swallow. A single health condition could require multiple medications ranging from prescription drugs and over-the-counter medicine to vitamins or supplements. If you’re part of the 66% of older adults in America who have been diagnosed with multiple health conditions, your list of medications could double or triple. The following is a list of do’s and don’ts that you should consider in order to streamline your medication regimen.
Don’t go it alone. It’s normal to feel a bit helpless when you receive a diagnosis of a health condition. However, feelings of isolation can be avoided by building a strong healthcare team. Doctors and pharmacists will be able to provide unbiased, professional medical advice when you have questions about treatment. Your family and friends can offer moral support. And your caregiver can lend a helping hand whenever you need it most. All you have to do is ask for help.
Do adjust your mindset. Treatment can be frustrating at times, especially among seniors who recall a much shorter road to recovery in their past. It’s important to understand that when our bodies change and age, so does our response to treatment and medication. What was once an effective medication in the past may no longer work as well, as quickly, or in conjunction with other medications that you are taking now.
Don’t hesitate to ask questions. It’s critical to get answers from your doctor when you don’t understand something. The medical field is full of jargon and, after all, there is no such thing as a bad question when it comes to good health. You should also feel empowered to provide candid feedback if something doesn’t feel quite right. Your doctor may need to adjust the dosage of a medication or take you off of it altogether.
Perhaps the most important yet often overlooked question to ask your doctor is whether there are any medications that you can stop taking. Doctors are sometimes apt to add medications to a treatment plan without taking any away. Less is more when it comes to medication management.
Do read prescription labels. First, verify that your patient information and the prescription information is correct. Then, read all of the instructions for taking the medication as well as prescription warnings. Jot down the drug names, strengths, and dosages all on one piece of paper and post it in a central location at home so you can keep track of what to take when.
You’ll also find contact information for your pharmacy and doctor on the prescription label in case you have any questions once you get home. If you’re completely overwhelmed, you can also schedule a medication review with a pharmacist. Ask your caregiver to come along to take notes for you so you can give the pharmacist your undivided attention.
Don’t underestimate the power of organization. What if you forget a dose? What if you accidentally take too much? These can be dangerous mistakes. You can streamline medication adherence by creating a medication schedule. Here, you’ll list each medication, which days of the week you need to take it and at what time, and how much of the medication to take. In addition to a schedule, you can set an alarm to notify you when it’s time to take your medicine.
In addition to more health education guides, you can download and print a free medication schedule on SingleCare.