Medication safety is an important topic that we as providers and patients often overlook. As we age, we tend to add more and more medications to our drug regimen. Adding medications may increase the risk of drug interactions. The older we are, the harder it is on our bodies to break down and process these medications. Whether you are the one on multiple medications or caring for someone who is, medication safety is something we can all use more education on. Below are five important tips to help you or a loved one when it comes to medication management.
- Ask questions to get the information you need about medicines and make better informed decisions. For example, how do I take the medicine, when do I take the medicine, are there common side effects?
- Know it’s a medicine. Medicines don’t just come on prescription – they include over-the-counter medicines from a pharmacy, supermarket or other store, as well as herbal remedies, vitamins and other supplements.
- Know the active ingredient. Active ingredients are what make your medicines work. If your pharmacist offers you an alternative brand of prescription medicine, you can be sure it will work the same way as your usual medicine.
- Always follow instructions from your doctor or pharmacist and read the labels and packaging of your medicines carefully. For more detailed information, read the Consumer Medicine Information leaflet which is available for prescription and pharmacist-only medicines.
- Keep track of all your medicines. Keep a current list of your medicines on paper to keep with you, especially on visits to your doctor, pharmacist or to the hospital. You can use the NPS Medicines List, or use the free MedicineWise app on your smartphone.