For many older adults, taking medications is essential to overall health. However, taking a variety of medications can also lead to problems. For example: mixed up prescriptions or an adverse drug interaction.
The more prescriptions you are taking, the harder it is to keep track of them all and the greater room for error. Nearly two-thirds of Canadian seniors are taking five or more prescription drugs, according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information. Furthermore, over 40 per cent of Canadians age 85 and above are taking more than 10 drugs.
Staying on top of your medications is key to staying healthy and safe. Here are five easy tips for keeping track of your prescriptions:
1) Use just one pharmacy If you pick up your medications at several different pharmacies, then the pharmacists may not have all of your drug information on file, which could mean that potential interactions or allergies may not be flagged, The Globe and Mail notes. It’s a smarter strategy to pick up all your medications at one place – and makes it more convenient for you.
2) Use pill organizers Pill organizers separate out daily dosages for easy access. Arthritis Research Canada recommends using a pill organizer that has detachable boxes so that you can tote along a day’s dose if you’re on the go. You can also ask your pharmacist to put together blister packs for you that organize your medications into daily doses.
3) Keep a master list Write a list of all the medications you are on, complete with the name of the medication, the dosage, the time it needs to be taken, the date it was prescribed and who prescribed it. If you stop taking a certain prescription, cross it off the list, and update any information that changes. Keep this list on you so it is easily accessible in case of emergency, and be sure to show it to your doctors and other health providers.
4) Build in reminders A dependable reminder system can help you keep better track of taking your prescriptions. Write doses and times in your daily planner or hang sticky notes reminding you to take your pills in convenient locations, like on your bathroom mirror or refrigerator door. You can also use an alarm on your phone to remind you to take your pills.
5) Regularly review medications with a professional With many older Canadians taking several drugs at once and changing prescriptions or adding new ones throughout the year, it’s smart to check in with your pharmacist from time to time so he or she can alert you to any potential interactions or side effects you should watch out for. The Globe and Mail recommends that you ask your pharmacist to review your medications with you at least twice a year, even if your medications have remained the same. You should also book an appointment any time you go on a new medication.