It is important to know everything you can about your loved one’s medications. With so many different health care providers prescribing medication, make sure you understand the different side effects and interactions that each pill causes. Also make sure your loved one isn’t taking any expired medication. If they do have medicine that is expired, be sure they are disposing of it properly.
Here are a few more simple prescription safety guidelines:
Take Medications as Prescribed
It may sound basic, but it is essential that your loved one takes their medicine regularly and as prescribed. Make sure that they are wearing their glasses and that the lights are on when taking medications so that they aren’t mixing up pills. Set alarms and organize a pill box to ensure your loved one is getting the right medication, at the right times of day. Don’t let them skip or stop any medication without consulting a doctor first.
Keep a List of Medications
Write down everything your loved one is taking and have multiple copies. Make sure you’re also writing down when they take it and the dosage. This may come in handy for other caregiving family and friends when you cannot be there to help out.
Be Aware of Potential Interactions
As you age, the risk of drug interactions increases. Be aware of how one drug affects another, medical conditions that make certain drugs harmful, food that interacts with drugs and alcohol interactions. Make sure you are reading the drug facts and if your loved one is seeing multiple health care providers, they are all aware of each medication.
Dispose of Expired Medication
Medication is considered expired a year after it has been prescribed. Do not flush your loved one’s expired medication unless labelling specifically says that you can. If there are no disposal instructions, mix it with undesirable substances like cat litter or coffee grounds before throwing it out. Many cities have local medication disposal sites at police stations, municipal buildings and pharmacies. Twice a year, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day to increase awareness about expired drugs and proper disposal. You can take your loved one’s medications to these sites as well.
Understanding your loved one’s medications is key to keeping them safe. Consider scheduling an annual medication review with their doctor. An annual review can help your loved one avoid harmful drug interactions and lower the costs of their medications.