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Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Using Medications Safely – A Key Ingredient to Your Health

Nearly nine in ten (89%) of adults aged 65 years and over report that they are taking at least one prescription medication. Of that nearly 89% of adults aged 65 years and over, over half (54%) of those same individuals report taking four or more prescription drugs daily.  This large number of prescription medications, primarily prescribed to individuals of an older demographic representative a huge percentage of the prescription drugs sold in the United States. 

As we get older, it is understood by most that the need to take daily medication will probably happen.  Prescription medications and over-the-counter medications become an important part of our lives as we move into our 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and beyond. 

As we get older, our sensitivity to some medications increases as our metabolism slows down.  This is why is it important for individuals and caregivers to be aware of all medications that are being taken and to stay in communication with all healthcare providers who are prescribing this medication.  OHAI wants to provide you with some other tips that could keep you or a family member safe when taking medications.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash
  1. Keep an up-to-date list of all your medications with you at all times.  This is critical, especially if you have a health issue outside of the home.  Make sure that you have an updated medication list either written, typed, or even added to the Health section of your phone.  If you have a medical emergency, EMS and other healthcare providers will need that information to make sure that you receive the best care.  Make sure that you add ALL medications that you are taking, including any herbal supplements or over-the-counter medications.
  • Try to use the same pharmacy to fill all of your prescriptions.  All pharmacies have drug interaction software that alerts them if you have been prescribed a medication that could cause a drug interaction.  This is important when you are being prescribed multiple medications by multiple healthcare providers. 
  • Have a relationship with your pharmacist.  If you have questions, ask them.  Pharmacists are available to answer any questions that you may have and can get into contact with your healthcare provider if you have a side effect from a new medication.  Your pharmacist is a very important part of your healthcare team. 
  • When you get a new medication from a healthcare provider, ask questions.  Here are a few examples of some questions that you may ask: What is the name of the medication? What is the medication used for? How long will I need to take this medication? How should I take this medication? Is there a generic equivalent?  These are questions that your healthcare provider should be able to answer for you and provide you with much-needed information on the medications that you are taking.  Remember, knowledge is power. 

For this and more information on medication safety as we age, please reach out to the Oklahoma Healthy Aging Initiative (OHAI)  at www.ohai.org or you can call OHAI Northwest Office of Healthy Aging at (580) 297-5137 or you can reach out via email at devon-murray@ouhsc.edu.  Remembering some of these easy tips will keep you aging to perfection!

Devon Murray
Devon Murrayhttp://www.ohai.org
Devon Murray is the Education Director with the Oklahoma Healthy Aging Initiative (OHAI). OHAI is a sponsored program of the Section of Geriatric Medicine within the College of Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Science Center. OHAI office in Enid provide community education to older adults, caregivers and healthcare providers across 16 counties in Northwestern Oklahoma.

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