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National Safety Month: Medication Safety

How to Use Medication Safely

Written by:

Jeffrey Grossman


June 20, 2019

Medication Safety is an important topic to cover during National Safety Month. As we age, we tend to add more and more medications to our drug regimen. Adding medications may increase the risk of drug interactions. The older we are, the harder it is on our bodies to break down and process these medications. Whether you are the one on multiple medications or caring for someone who is, medication safety is something we can all use more education on. Below are seven important tips to help you or a loved one when it comes to medication management.

Tip #1: Be your own medical care advocate. Keep communication open with your doctor, pharmacists, and whoever helps in your healthcare. Know what medications you are taking and ask questions about them. Here are some important questions to ask:

What does each medication do?

What are the side effects?

What do I do if I miss a dose?

What interactions should I be aware of while taking this? (e.g. foods, alcohol, other medications)

When should I take them?

Tip #2: Don’t take medication prescribed to others. Only take what your doctor or healthcare provider prescribes. Taking someone else’s medicines can cause dangerous reactions.

Tips #3: Keep a list. Have an updated list of all medications, even over the counter, vitamins, and supplements, as well as what time you take each daily. Post this list on your fridge or somewhere in the house where you can see it every day. Also, take a copy of your list with you to medical appointments as a reference point. Even something as ordinary as Tylenol should be noted.

Tip #4: Always take your medications exactly how your doctor/pharmacist recommends. Be sure to familiarize yourself with how each medicine should be taken and when. Alcohol, certain foods, and other medications/supplements can have scary interactions with your current medication regimen. It’s important to know the potential side effects!

Tip #5: Review your medication regimen frequently with your doctor and healthcare provider. Even if you have been on a certain medication for some time, keep your doctor updated. Any changes or side effects you may be noticing is important for healthcare providers to know in order to make adjustments. Remember, just because a condition is not listed as a side effect does not mean the medicine is not causing your health issue.

Tip #6: Never ever stop taking a medicine without consulting with your doctor. The same goes for adding medicines/supplements/vitamins. If you are having trouble paying for your prescription, ask your physician if a generic version is available.

Tip #7: Find an advocate. In addition to having an updated list of all medications, you should keep a trusted family member or friend informed. Establishing someone close who is up to date on all of the medications you are currently taking creates a safeguard. In case you become incapacitated or are unable to speak for yourself, you have an advocate who knows your needs.

Medication management can be overwhelming, especially if you are caring for someone on various types of medication. Home care can help in all aspects of medication management; from putting medications in a medication organizer/pill box, to training family members on medications, and even being there to remind someone when to take their pills.

To learn more about Commonwise Home Care or medication management, you can speak to us directly at 434.202.8565.