It is no surprise that as people age, new health changes must be taken into consideration. In fact, older patients take two to three times as many prescription medications as those under 65 and the percentage of people over 60 who take five or more medications has jumped from 22 percent to 37 percent. Right now there are more than 30 million Americans taking five or more prescription medications! It’s important to know how to properly manage your medications so that you stay on a path to better health.
Here are my top five recommendations to keep you healthy and living your best life:
1. Call one pharmacy home. Having one “pharmacy home” for all of your prescriptions can help guard against potential drug interactions since your pharmacist will know all medications you are taking.
2. Ask your pharmacist for help. People using a single pharmacy are also more likely to connect with their own pharmacists on a regular basis. Your pharmacist can give advice on the different roles of medications in treating health conditions and also give advice on how to take your medications, including over-the-counter medications, vitamins and herbal supplements. Every trip you make to your local pharmacy is an opportunity to save money, too. Your local pharmacist can identify generic versions of your medications that are just as safe and effective, but at a lower cost.
3. Communicate, communicate, communicate!If you have a question, are unsure about a certain medication, are experiencing a side-effect, or have an achy knee, it’s important to speak with a trained health expert. Sometimes the fix will be as simple as shifting your medication dosage or perhaps taking your medication with food instead of on an empty stomach.
4. Take your medication as directed. Medication adherence is a growing concern across the U.S. as Americans neglect to fill prescriptions and take medications as directed. In fact, one in every four people who are prescribed new medication never fill it. More Americans are also falling victim to poor adherence habits. By not taking medication regularly, you can increase health risks, so take medication exactly as directed.
5. Practice spring-cleaning on your medicine cabinet. Some patients never check their medications for expiration dates. Expired medications may lose effectiveness and should not be taken after the expiration date. When a prescription or medication goes untouched, the ingredients may decompose or evaporate, making the drug less effective. Talk with your pharmacist about how you can properly store your medications and what to do when they expire.