There's the green pill in the morning before eating and again before you go to bed. After breakfast, it's the eye drops and nasal spray. Then, there's the yellow capsule with lunch and the pink tablet that you can't take with milk. If you have chest pain, don't forget the blue caplet.
People over age 65 use more prescription medicines and over-the-counter drugs than any other age group. Their medication schedules can be complicated and hard to keep straight. If the person's memory is slowing down with age, the challenge is even greater.
Managing your medications properly is vital to your health. This can be done most effectively by learning more about each medicine and developing a daily routine. Your doctor and pharmacist should be your primary sources of information.
Some key things you should know about each medication you take:
- How long before or after eating should I take the medicine?
- Can I take the medicine with milk, fruit juice or coffee? Are there foods that make it less effective?
- Should I restrict certain activities (e.g., driving) while taking this medicine?
- Is it OK to drink alcohol while taking this medication?
- What should I do if I miss a dose?
- Is it OK to crush the tablet if it's hard to swallow, or does the medication come in a liquid form?
- What are the possible side effects and when should I call the doctor?
Develop a system
Once you have a good understanding of your medications, figure out ways to remember how and when to take each drug. Start by making a list of every medication you use. Write down the dose and the time of day you take it. Keep the list up to date and bring it with you when you see a doctor or travel.
If there is a problem with your medication, don't adjust the dose or stop taking it without talking to your doctor. If you have trouble opening a childproof cap, ask your pharmacist for another lid.
Following are additional tips to help you take your medicines safely:
- Always check the label before taking medicine. If the print on the container is hard to read, ask your pharmacist if it can be made larger.
- Buy a pill organizer with sections for different times of the day.
- Program a wristwatch or alarm clock to help you remember to take medicine.
- Don't take medicine in the dark. Turn on the light to make sure you are taking the right pill.
- Don't wait until you run out of medicine to renew your prescription. Make sure you always have at least a few days' worth of pills on hand.
- Never take medications that were prescribed for someone else or give your medications to another person.