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Five Things to Know About Your Parents’ Medications

Updated: Oct 6, 2022

Most older adults on multiple medications will not have their medications regularly reviewed. What should you know in order to be an advocate for your loved one’s well being?

Fewer Medications is Often Safer

That’s because the more medications a senior takes, the greater the chance of side-effects, interactions, and emergencies due to adverse events. Tell doctors that your family would prefer for your parent to be on fewer medications if possible. Ask the doctors – or a pharmacist –to help you identify any medications that could be eliminated.

Consider Non-Drug Treatments

Many doctors recommend prescription medication as a default. Whenever a doctor proposes a prescription medication treatment for a given problem, be sure to ask about non-drug treatment options. The doctor should be happy to review these once you’ve expressed your interest.

Beware of Forgotten Meds

Plan on actively reviewing the need for every medication on a yearly basis. If a medication was recently added during a hospitalization, make sure the primary care doctor checks up on it at a later follow-up visit. You can also request a comprehensive medication review, which usually means that all medications are re-evaluated for appropriateness and safety.

Check the Beers List

The Beers List is a list of medications that older adults should avoid or use with caution. If you discover that your parent is taking medications that are on the Beer’s list, the American Geriatrics Society offers an excellent guide that explains what do to. View the Beer’s list

Weigh the Pros and Cons

Risks can often be reduced with a lower dosage of a medication. When considering starting or continuing a medication, plan on asking the doctor to clarify the likely benefit, along with the risk. The likely benefit is often smaller than people realize.

These simple steps will help your parents get the medications they need and avoid the medications they don’t need.~


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