How to Manage Multiple Medications
Someone older than 65 takes an average of six medications a day. Taking multiple medications at the same time is called polypharmacy. But with more medications come higher costs and greater risks, so it should come as no surprise that polypharmacy is a major concern for seniors. How to Manage Multiple Medications
There are plenty of legitimate reasons why polypharmacy can occur. You may have developed a new condition, or an existing condition may have worsened. You may need certain medications to treat unavoidable side effects of other medications. And it may be that that you’re facing treatment gaps that only a combination of pills can address. It’s also possible that if you use multiple doctors, they’re unaware of what other medications you’re on, and could be prescribing medication that isn’t the best choice for you.
Fortunately, there are several things you can do to lessen both the burden and risk of multiple medications.
Step one: Take an active role in your own health. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and do whatever it takes to understand your condition and the medications you’re prescribed. Below is a checklist of some questions you may want to ask your doctor or pharmacist.
- Can this drug interact with any other drugs I currently take?
- Are there any foods or drinks that I should avoid when I use this medication?
- When and how should I take my medication?
- What side effects can I expect to experience with this medication?
- Is there a generic version of the drug available?
- How long should I be on this medication? Are there any specific requirements for refilling the prescription?
Step two: Make a medication list. Make a list of the medications you’re currently taking, including prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, and vitamins or supplements. You should share this list with loved ones and every doctor you see. Include important notes about dosage/frequency, strength, what it looks like, and what condition it treats. The list should also include the name and contact information for the doctor who prescribed it, as well as how long you’ve been on the medication. If you are enrolled in Medicare Part D, you may find that your plan has online tools or a mobile application to help you keep track of this information.
You should review this list each time you see your doctor, in case there are any changes to the medications you take. This way, your doctor can identify potentially dangerous combinations, or opportunities to replace two medications with a single prescription. Your doctor may also be able to suggest switching certain prescriptions to generic versions, which can result in savings of up to 70 percent. Your pharmacist should also see this list whenever you pick up a new prescription for the first time, as a backup check to make sure it won’t be a dangerous mix.
Step Three: Minimize the number of pharmacies you use. Using multiple pharmacies increases your risk of a pharmacist missing a potentially dangerous interaction. For long-term medications, consider using a home delivery pharmacy, if available. This is a convenient and safe way to fill prescriptions, and may even save you some money.
Taking multiple medications becomes a likely reality as we age. With these simple steps, you can protect yourself, and potentially save some money. Visit Roadmapformedicare.com for more prescription drug tips and tricks, or any other questions you have about Medicare Part D. Sign up for a free newsletter about retirement planning and Medicare at http://www.roadmapformedicare.com/sign-up/.
About the Author
Jeff has been the CEO of Senior.com for 12 years. Senior.com has grown under Jeff’s leadership, in fact when the website was first launched, the member base grew form Zero to over 700,000 in less the 3 years. Current, has over 1,600,000 registered members.
Jeff received his MBA degree in Managerial Finance and Investor Relations from the University of Phoenix and his Bachelor of Arts degree in Corporate Finance and Accounting from California State University, Fullerton.View All Articles