Pharmacists are an integral member of your healthcare team. They look for interactions between the medications you’re taking, assess for correct dosages, and provide counsel to you on properly taking and storing medications. Pharmacists are also a resource for questions pertaining to insurances and payment options for medications. It pays to get to know your pharmacist and understand what to share with your pharmacist.
It may be beneficial for you to have one pharmacy fill all of your prescriptions, rather than multiple pharmacies. They will then have a current record (as well as a historical record) of all of your medications in one place. This makes it easier to spot potential problems or interactions or print a list for you when you need it.
What to Share with Your Pharmacist
It’s extremely important all of your healthcare providers, including your pharmacist, stay current on all of the medications you are taking. This includes all prescribed medications as well as over-the-counter and herbal supplements.
Even though over-the-counter medications and herbal supplements don’t require a prescription, they can be powerful and could adversely impact your current prescriptions/health condition. Make it a habit to consult with your pharmacist before taking over-the-counter medications and herbal supplements.
Also remember to talk to your pharmacist about any allergic reactions you’ve experienced so they can keep track of that in your record as well.
Questions to Ask Your Pharmacist
According to the National Council on Aging, on average, the older adult takes 4-5 prescription medications and 2 over-the-counter medications a day. Here are questions you should know the answers to regarding each of your medications:
- What is the name (both brand and generic name) of the medication?
- When and how do I take it? With food or on an empty stomach?
- How long should I take it and how will I know it is working?
- What monitoring should occur? (i.e. blood pressure, heart rate, lab testing, blood sugars).
- Should I avoid alcohol, any other medicines, food, and/or activities?
- What are common side effects? What should I do if I experience them?
- What if I forget to take a dose of a medication?
- Are there any implications to being pregnant or breast-feeding while taking this medication, if this pertains to you?
- How should I store my medications? Are they affected by temperature, humidity, or sunlight?
Those who choose to fill their prescriptions through a mail order service (i.e. Medco or Walgreens) should follow the same advice as above.
While you may not be able to walk up to the counter to discuss your questions face to face, you can and should communicate your questions and concerns over the phone or through the company’s app.
Medication Management in Assisted Living
The RN routinely reviews residents’ medications and looks for interactions, dosages, unneeded medications, and side effects. They also work with the pharmacist to answer questions and help a senior gain a full understanding of what each prescription is meant to do for them.
And, because the trained staff administers the medications, it certainly takes the stress and worry out of having to manage medications yourself.