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Getting the most from your medications

Information for seniors on how to use prescriptions effectively and safely

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Americans are living longer and better than ever. This is due in large part to advances in medicine that have led to earlier diagnosis and improved treatment of chronic conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, cancer and stroke — just to name a few. Nowadays, most people 65 and older have at least one chronic health condition, and likely take multiple medications. Today's medicines can treat disease and reduce symptoms of the many conditions and ailments that are experienced by adults as they age. However, in order to make the best use of your medicines, and avoid possible health risks, it is critical to use the medications properly.

As 79 million aging baby boomers get older, they and their caregivers must take the time to learn about their medications and how to avoid problems. Download a quick guide brochure to help you on your next visit to your medical provider.

Top questions to ask your pharmacist

You are the leader of your own healthcare team, and your team needs your help! It is important to ask good questions and make sure you have all the answers you need about your medications - both over the counter and prescription. Take a look below for the top questions you should ask to help you make the most of your medications.

  1. What is the name of the medicine?
  2. What is the medicine for?
  3. What are the benefi ts of the medicine to me?
  4. What are the risks of the medicine?
  5. Are there any lifestyle changes I can make that will help my medication work better for me?
  6. Is there a less expensive medication I could use?
  7. When should I expect the medicine to start working, and how will I know if it is working?
  8. How long will I have to take the medication?
  9. What form is the medication in? Pill, liquid, etc.?
  10. Are there any special instructions I should follow?
  11. How much of the medicine should I take?
  12. Is the medicine safe with the other prescriptions and non prescription medicines and supplements?
  13. What are the possible side effects?
  14. What should I do if I notice any side effects occuring?
  15. Do I need any tests or monitoring?
  16. When should I follow up with my prescriber?

Center for Medicines and Healthy Aging
NIH Senior Health
Medication Use Safety training for Seniors 

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