Sunday, December 1, 2013

Things to remember about your medications

Bubble packs keep one organized
for those with chronic conditions.
I was a bit shocked when I read this condescending article title:

A recent study shows that 38 million seniors suffer drug complications every year, about 180,000 which are life-threatening. Diagnosing a medication overdose can be complicated as well, as often the harmful effects of taking too much medication or the wrong medication is diagnosed as something else, like a stroke or dementia.
It's as if big brother (By  needs to take care of you! It is a familiar tone in many articles, written by people for a publication or written by those who work in the healthcare field.
I wrote about falls, for example:
Bathroom safety
to prevent falls

Preventing Falls - but treat seniors like adults

I read, with horror, a Tweet that tells adult children to senior-proof their parent's bathrooms. (Smack them upside the head!)

How undignified is this? I am similarly shocked that this article purports that all seniors believe myths around medications, and need to be watched carefully.

I know many seniors who are on top of their medications, take their blood pressure on a regular basis, and visit annually with the pharmacist to have the medications checked. This is the benefit of universal healthcare in Canada. Perhaps the data is only applicable to the US, hard to say.
    Check your BP regularly
Yes, some seniors do not understand the importance of monitoring their medications, and talking to pharmacists, but many are highly educated, and understand the importance of telling Primary Care teams about their prescribed medications, as well as supplements that they take.

What should we remember?

  • Do not overdose, take medications exactly as prescribed. 
    I take meds for mild arthritis.   
  • Discuss your medications with your pharmacist.
  • Discuss contraindications with the pharmacist
  • Check when combining over-the-counter medications.
  • Consult with your doctor or pharmacist on a regular basis.

Talk to your pharmacist

Your pharmacist is the best source of information when you are given new, or renewing old medications. They will provide you with information on:
  • The correct dosage and the time of day to take them.
  • Allergic reactions you must look out for
  • When to stop the medications
  • Potential drug interactions
  • Some medications require a full,
    or an empty stomach
  • Ensure you understand if you're to take your Rx on a full or empty stomach, with or without particular liquids (e.g., milk, acidic juices).

Proper drug protocols

  • When a drug has expired or you no longer need it, take it to your druggist who will dispose of it properly. DO NOT FLUSH IT INTO SEWER SYSTEMS.
  • If you have difficulty taking your meds are the right time, ask for a bubble pack.
  • If you are unable to open child-proof containers ask for senior-friendly packaging.
  • Read my post, 

    BEFORE YOU DIAL 911.

Hoarding medications
This is what happens
when a senior ODs on drugs.

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