How Does a Pharmacist Help Older Adults?
Age-related conditions often require multiple medications. In fact, 39% of US adults over the age of 65 take more than five prescription medications daily. Keeping track of when these medications should be taken, what they do, and what they interact with can be a challenge. Your local pharmacist is a vital resource – she can advise on medication interactions, answer your questions about side effects, and more!
Using the same pharmacy consistently, or taking care to inform health care personnel the medications, vitamins, and supplements you take prevents the chance of interactions between medications and allow for accurate decisions to be made without guesswork. Having a primary care provider and staying loyal to the same pharmacy also creates a relationship between you and the staff, plus your medication history is saved in their system.
Interactions & Overdoses
Before heading to the pharmacy, write down the questions you have ahead of time so you don’t forget. Maintaining and bringing a list of each medication – prescription and OTC – you take and giving it to your pharmacist, is also a big help! She can review it to advise you on which over-the-counter (OTC) medications and dietary supplements may cause interactions with your prescriptions. For instance, those with high blood pressure should avoid certain decongestants.
Your pharmacist will also be able to guide you on which brand names and prescriptions contain the same active ingredients to prevent a potential overdose. For example, acetaminophen is the active ingredient in OTC headache and pain relievers, cold remedies, and in prescription medications. Too much acetaminophen can cause liver damage, so it’s important to know which medications it is in.
Be Proactive When Medications Go Wrong
Sometimes, medications hurt more than they help. If this happens, don’t be afraid to speak up, especially if you think a mistake has been made with your prescription. If you are experiencing a negative side effect, don’t stop taking the medication abruptly, as this could have an adverse effect on your health. Instead, alert your doctor or pharmacist right away. They will work with you to find a better medication for you and include the information in their system, so you aren’t prescribed the negative-affecting medication in the future.
Forming a relationship with your pharmacist can make you feel more comfortable asking questions, can prevent medication interactions and overdoses, and overall help make you healthier.