1. Health

Medication Safety for Seniors

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Updated July 22, 2008

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has published a number of brochures, newsletters and articles dealing with issue of medication safety in seniors. Many seniors have chronic health conditions and take multiple medications. This high use of prescription drugs combined with age-related infirmities is related to the increasing number of adverse drug events.

Tips for Seniors on Safe Medicine Use from the FDA

  • Learn about your medicines. Read medicine labels and package inserts and follow the directions. If you have questions, ask your doctor or other health care professionals.
  • Talk to your team of health care professionals about your medical conditions, health concerns, and all the medicines you take (prescription and OTC medicines), as well as dietary supplements, vitamins, and herbals. The more they know, the more they can help. Don't be afraid to ask questions.
  • Keep track of side effects or possible drug interactions and let your doctor know right away about any unexpected symptoms or changes in the way you feel.
  • Make sure to go to all doctor appointments and to any appointments for monitoring tests done by your doctor or at a laboratory.
  • Use a calendar, pill box, or other things to help you remember what you need to take and when. Write down information your doctor gives you about your medicines or your health condition.
  • Take along a friend or relative to your doctor's appointments if you think you might need help to understand or to remember what the doctor tells you.
  • Have a "Medicine Check-Up" at least once a year. Go through your medicine cabinet to get rid of old or expired medicines and also ask your doctor or pharmacist to go over all the medicines you now take. Don't forget to tell them about all the OTC medicines or any vitamins, dietary supplements, and herbals you take.
  • Keep all medicines out of the sight and reach of children.

Source: FDA/Center for Drug Evaluation and Research

Additional Resources from the FDA

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