Medications: What you Need to Know About Your Own Regimen
Medications are what make the world go around! With our advancement in medical technology and pharmaceuticals, came a “medication for everything.” What that means for us, the consumers, is as we age, we might find ourselves taking multiple prescription medications combined with vitamins and over-the-counter medications as well. This can be overwhelming and hard to track. I am 30 years old and sometimes forget whether I took my ONE multivitamin that morning or not.
If this sounds like you or a loved one, you are not alone. More than one-third of people ages 62-85 take at least five prescription drugs. This can become confusing and how are you to remember all the doses and medication names? When you are taking this many medicines, you typically might be seeing multiple physicians with various specialties. One of the first questions they ask in the new patient paperwork is if you take any medications at home?
To make this simple, keep a log of your medications in your phone or in your purse/wallet. Keep it updated when your medications change. Your list should include the brand/generic name of the medication, the dose and the frequency you take it. With this list readily available, it makes it easier for your doctor to look over your current medications, it saves you time and effort and there is less chance of a drug-drug interaction with this accurate information.
Along with knowing the medications you are taking, make sure to do your research into WHY you are taking that medication? What is it treating? What are some common side effects to expect while taking that medication? This is your responsibility to teach yourself this information.
Another complex topic is how medications can change overtime and as we age. Older people may be more sensitive to medications than young people. This is due to the changes that happen to the body naturally with age. Older people have more body fat and less water levels. That means medications can become more concentrated and can stay in your body longer. Also with age, the body’s liver and kidney function decreases which can also allow for medications to stay in your system longer since the liver and kidney are primary for absorbing medications. This means that older people might be more sensitive to medications and as we age might need some dosage adjustments.
Some things to consider when starting a new medication or changing your current medication regimen is to speak with your doctor about your concerns. Sometimes you might just need an adjustment of the amount of medication you are taking, not necessarily stopping it all together. Be mindful of side effects and be aware of your loved one’s medication regimen and their potential side effects. Sometimes it takes an outside perspective to notice something is not right. Make sure to always keep an updated list of medications with you and ensure your doctors lists are up to date. Include all your vitamins, dietary supplements and over-the-counter medications on your list as well. Try to fill your prescriptions at one pharmacy, that way the pharmacist has a whole list of your current medications and can also monitor for any potential drug-drug interactions.