If you’re like the average American over 65, you take about three prescriptions each month (prescribed by more than one doctor) in addition to some over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, and supplements. But what do you really know about these medications? Are they safe to take together? Could they cause unwanted side effects? Is it time to stop taking some of them? Perhaps it’s time to have a medication review.
Medications can be finicky, and how well they work can depend on a number of things. Some are within your control, like taking them as prescribed, but some have to do with things you can’t always control, like interactions with the other prescriptions, supplements, and vitamins.
Review Your Medications
To ensure that your medications are working as they are supposed to, it’s recommended that everyone have a complete medication review with their primary physician or pharmacist every year. There can be a lot going on during a doctor’s appointment or at your pharmacy, and it’s easy to forget the names of the drugs you take, what they’re prescribed for, symptoms or side effects, and questions you may have.
The best way to remember the details of your medication routine is to write them down ahead of time. The National Institute on Aging has created worksheets that can help ensure you won’t forget a thing.
- Medication worksheet — Tracking your medications
- Symptom worksheet — Discussing changes in your health
- Question worksheet — Discussing your concerns with your doctor
Bring your completed forms to your appointment and give a copy of them to your doctor or pharmacist ahead of time. It will give them a chance to familiarize themselves with your health, prepare for your questions, and formulate questions of their own.
Talking to Your Doctor
A good medication review depends on a lot of things, including how well you and your doctor communicate. If for some reason you feel you aren’t being heard or can’t be open, consider switching to a doctor that you’re more comfortable with. The languages they speak, their gender, and if they live or work in your community are a few of the things that can help you build a healthy patient-doctor relationship.
IBX members can search our online provider directory to find doctors, hospitals, pharmacy, vision, dental, and ancillary providers.
Carry Your Medication List with You
Once you’ve had a medication review, complete a wallet medication card and carry it with you. If you take multiple medications, consider wearing a medical ID bracelet that says simply, “On multiple meds. See wallet card,” to reduce the chance of drug interactions during a medical emergency.