Being older is a leading risk factor for many diseases and conditions, including those that require regular medications. Even though these medications can help seniors live healthier lives, it’s important that they pay close attention to how to safely use their medication. Many common prescriptions can cause harmful side effects if they aren’t used as directed.
The most common substances that seniors misuse are benzodiazepines for anxiety and insomnia, pain relievers for arthritis and hip fractures, and over-the-counter medications. Unfortunately, the symptoms of prescription drug misuse often mirror common signs of aging — such as memory loss, disorientation, depression and lack of balance — and may be hard for patients or their family members to recognize.
One way to avoid misusing prescription drugs is to keep your doctor up to speed on all of the medications you’re taking. That includes over-the-counter pills and vitamin and mineral supplements.
Whether it’s a prescription drug or daily vitamin, your doctor will be able to make sure you’re using it correctly and fully benefiting from it. To make sure your doctor knows about all of your medications, try these helpful tips:
To ensure you’re taking your medication safely — the right amounts at the right time — use a pill organizer. The organizer can help you to establish a routine that makes remembering to take your medications easier.
You also need to make sure your prescriptions are refilled on time. These tips may help you avoid opening an empty pill bottle:
Prescription drugs should be taken seriously, and require you to communicate and understand issues and questions. When in doubt, be sure to speak with your doctor or a pharmacist about when, why and how to properly take them.
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