Accountability, it's the new watchword. We want our policemen, our teachers, our employees, our health care providers and for heaven's sake our politicians to all be accountable. We want to hold someone responsible. But when it comes to one of the most important things that can
impact our health and our ability to age successfully we aren't holding ourselves accountable. We want "someone else" to be the responsible party.
I'm talking about MEDICATION!
Mismanagement of medication is often the first thing that will cause someone to lose their independence. In the U.S. today over 40% of those over the age of 65 take between five and nine different medications. It can be very confusing and sometimes lethal.
It's not unusual for a senior to be seeing several different doctors for different conditions. That doesn't mean that those physicians are all "talking" to each other. Yes, there are a lot of cooks in the kitchen. Did you know that your primary physician is NOT responsible for monitoring your different medications? Did you know your pharmacist is also NOT responsible for monitoring your different medications. YOU are the one who must be accountable for the medications you take.
Is there any good news? Absolutely! Here are actions steps to make sure that the medicine we take not only benefits our health but is safely administered for ourselves or someone we love.
- Talk with ALL of your doctors about the medication they prescribe. What is it for? What is the medication supposed to do? How it should be taken ( w/food, water, intervals)? What could be the side effects? What if I miss a dose? Are there any other special instructions with this medication?
- Ask your doctor if the medicine could interact with other medicines either prescribed or "over-the-counter" ?
- Always have your medications filled at the SAME pharmacy. Pharmacists keep a computer record of those medications that you have filled with them and can often see potential conflicts or problems with drug interaction. Ask your pharmacist if you can fill out a client profile to include all your medications and any "over-the-counter" medicines that you may be taking.
- Review your medications with your doctor frequently. Ask the question, "Do I still need to be taking this medication?" "Is this still the correct dosage?"
- Always take a COMPLETE listing of the medications you are taking including "over-the-counter" medicines into your doctor's office each and every time you go for a visit. Make sure that you are providing every doctor that see you a COMPLETE list of medicines that they can keep on file. Update this with them on a regular basis.
- Provide your family members that participate in your healthcare with a complete listing of the medicines that you are taking in case of emergency.
- When traveling always make sure that you have your medicine "with you" in a carry on or handbag and not in your checked baggage in case your luggage may be lost.
- Don't wait until the last minute to have prescriptions filled in case there is a problem getting your medicine or the pharmacy is closed due to holiday or off hours.
- Never take medications that are not prescribed for you even if you know what they are. The dosage could be based on weight or it may interact negatively with something else you are already taking.
- Never take medication if you have ingested alcohol. Alcohol can enhance the effects of many medications or cause other adverse reactions.
- Organize your medications. There are multiple options for assisting with this - from pill organizers to digital reminder pill boxes.
- Keep medications in a cool dry place away from bright light. Do not store medicines in the refrigerator unless instructed by your doctor.
- Always keep medication in a safe place away from children and pets. This includes when you are away from home. Be cautious about storing your medications in your pockets or purse when away from home - which could cause easy access for children.
- Always read the inserts that are included with your prescriptions so that you aware of potential side effects and how the medication may interact with other substances.
- Be aware that herbal remedies and vitamins can also interact with medicines that you are taking.
- Remember nutrition, exercise and socialization are powerful tools to keep us healthy.
Medicine can be a tool to assist in our overall health. Knowledge is also a tool. Accountability for ourselves and those we love is also a tool. Let's use all the tools we have available to live our best life for our whole life!
To your health!