Taking any medication can be both good and bad for you. Older adults take more prescription and non-prescription drugs than younger adults. They have more complex medication schedules. In two Alberta communities, it was found that seniors took, on average, between five and six prescription medications, and between three and four OTC medications daily. The attending doctor and the dispensing pharmacist often did not know how the seniors took their medications. They also were not aware of the non-prescription medications taken by the seniors.
Many factors can affect a senior’s ability to take medication. For example, problems with vision, memory, or the ability to do small hand movements can contribute to medication errors and drug related problems. Confusion, falls, visits to the emergency room, and even a hospital stay can result.
Research has found regular reviews of medications by a health care provider, such as a doctor, pharmacist or nurse, can help. A review can improve medication use by seniors and find possible drug related problems. The average number of medications taken by the senior may be decreased, reducing medication waste and costs. However, seniors need to stay involved. Both seniors who take the medications and their caregivers play an important role in taking control and improving medication use.
Structured medication reviews can improve how you take your medications and help you take control of your medications.
A structured medication review is a regularly scheduled talk you have with your doctor, pharmacist or nurse. It makes sure you are taking medications that are right for you, the right way, in the right amount and are getting the right effects. It is also a good way to learn more about your medications.
Help by keeping a good record of the prescription and non-prescription medications, herbal products and nutrition supplements you take. Write down any questions or concerns you might have about your medications.
You may want to consider the following examples in making a list of your concerns. You may have others.
To see if you should have a structured medication review, ask yourself the following questions:
If you answered “yes” to any one of these questions, ask your doctor, pharmacist or nurse for a structured medication review.
Step 1 Prepare a record of all your medications and keep it up-to-date. Include all prescription, non-prescription, herbal products or nutrition supplements. The record should include the date you started the medication, how much you take, when you take it, and your reason for taking it. You may wish to ask your physician, pharmacist or other health care professional to assist you.
Step 2Make an appointment with your doctor, pharmacist or nurse and say that you would like your medications reviewed.
Step 3 Take your medications, medication record and any questions or concerns you have to your appointment. You might also want to take along a friend or a family member for support.
Step 4 Talk openly with your doctor, pharmacist or nurse. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or voice your concerns.
Step 4 Ask for a structured medication review at least once a year as part of your routine health check-up or any time your medications change.
Talk to your doctor, pharmacist or nurse or visit the web site www.healthymeds.com.