Aging brings many issues that we have to deal with and they range from being able to remain living independently to diminished health to the loss of loved ones and friends.
It's no surprise then that as we age and our health changes, that we will also be faced with taking more prescription medications than we did when we were younger. It's been shown that individuals over the age of 65 take two to three times as many prescriptions as those under age 65. There are more than 30 million Americans right now that are over the age of 60 that are taking five or more prescriptions medications daily.
It's also no surprise that it can be exceedingly difficult to manage prescription dosages and times for taking them as we age. More importantly we need to be aware of whether any of those medications will interact negatively with a new medication or whether it can cause a current medication to not work as effectively as it should. Elderly individuals must become advocates for their own health care and must also make certain they maintain their prescription schedules and speak up if they have any questions about the medications they are taking.
We offer these five ways to keep track of your medications, help you stay healthy and remain independent at home:
- The easiest way to make certain you don't suffer potentially harmful drug interactions is by using one pharmacy only. It is sometimes more convenient to drop a prescription off at the grocery store and pick it up when we're done shopping but having prescriptions filled at different pharmacies means you don't have a complete healthcare record on file in one location.
- Forge a relationship with your pharmacist. Make certain, when you are given a new medication that you ask your pharmacist if there are any potential side effects you need to be aware of and whether the medication will interact with others you are taking. Be aware, too that some medications need to be taken with food, while others may need to be taken on an empty stomach; you will need to plan your meals and prescription-taking to coincide with those requirements.
- Most pharmacies offer the option of a consultation with your pharmacists. Take advantage of that service and ask as many questions as you have regarding both prescription and non prescription medications. Also, make certain your pharmacist and your doctor are aware of what over the counter meds you are taking to prevent interactions.
- Medications must be taken according to the directions on the bottle, for example if you have to take one pill every 12 hours, you need to stick to that schedule, just as if it says to take on an empty stomach or take with a meal. Taking your medications improperly could lead to diminished health while taking them diligently and in accordance with the directions given can help get you back on the path toward wellness.
- Make a note on your calendar to clean your medicine cabinet at least once a year. Expired medicines lose effectiveness and should be disposed of following the expiration date. Many communities offer medication disposal days as it's not safe to merely toss them in the trash or flush them down the toilet. Also make it a point of asking your pharmacist how to properly store your medications; keep in mind that storing medication in the bathroom (which potentially gets hot and steamy) may not be the best option).
Keep in mind that individuals who are intent on aging in place may be better able to do so if they're keeping up with their medications, leading an active life (both mentally and physically) and eating a healthy diet. For individuals who worry about being alone in the event of a health emergency or a trip or fall accident may want to invest in a home medical alert device. With these devices, you're never truly alone as you have access to an individual that can summon emergency medical help at the push of a button.