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Key Strategies for Aging Well – Managing Medication Carefully

Disregarding the importance of taking medication has become a very common problem, with often valid reasons. The key issues include uncomfortable side effects, less than perfect outcomes or slow results. In some cases, inadvertent poorly timed or forgotten doses can make matters worse.  Discontinuing medication, missing a dose, doubling up doses or taking the wrong combinations of prescription and over the counter drugs along with vitamins or “natural” remedies can have serious side effects which can lead to hospitalization or even death.

•    The average senior takes 14 different medications in a year including both over the counter and prescription drugs which are often combined multiple times every day.  Tracking and proper timing requires mindful scheduling which may not always be possible.
•    Seniors account for more than 57% of all adverse drug reaction (ADR) hospitalizations in Canada.  A significant number of ADR hospitalizations can be prevented through careful medication management.  Medications used to treat, manage or prevent inflammation, pain, arthritis, cancer, heart or blood pressure problems, asthma, antipsychotics & antidepressants are the most common culprits.  If you are on medications to treat any of the above conditions it is vitally important that you have a system in place to ensure you are taking your medications properly.
•    Proper medication management and adherence can lead to the successful recovery of illness, ensure chronic illnesses remain in control and prevent future health problems.
•    Drug responses and reactions are very individual phenomena so it is important when starting on a new medication to watch for…and record…any possible side effects and discuss these with your health care professional.

Here is a list of important questions to ask your doctor or pharmacist for each and every new medication:

  • How does this medication work & what it is treating?
  • Is the drug being used in combination with any of the other medications?
  • Is there any drug I am on that will conflict with this new one?
  • What are the possible side effects?
  • How many times should I take the medicine and at what intervals?
  • Are there any over the counter medication, supplements or foods I should not combine with the new medication?
  • Where do I store the medication?
  • How long should I stay on the medication?
  • If I miss a dose should I double the next dose or skip it?
  • Are there any side effects of missing a dose or when I stop the medication?

Use this downloadable, printable chart to record or have the pharmacy record your medications for future reference and to share with caregivers and family.
Stonebridge offers medication consultation, medication monitoring and reminders to help you stay on course with your medications.  We can also provide “remote monitoring” that helps you and your family know that you are safe and detect any abnormalities quickly.  A Nurse Advisor is available to help consult on your healthcare needs and work with your healthcare providers to help manage medication in your home.
For more information on any of these services call Stonebridge Community Services at 519-842-3200.

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