August 27, 2019
The average American over the age of 65 takes about three prescriptions each month, as well as some vitamins, supplements, and other over-the-counter drugs. It’s important to have a full understanding about the medications you’re taking – do they safely interact with other drugs? Are there any side effects to watch out for? Should you stop taking them after a certain amount of time? If you’re not sure of the answers to some of these questions, it may be time for a medication review.
Medications can be finicky, and how well they work can depend on a number of things. Some are within your control, like taking them as prescribed, but some have to do with things you can’t always control, like interactions with other prescriptions, supplements, and vitamins.
To ensure that your medications are working as they are supposed to, it’s recommended that everyone have a complete medication review with their primary physician or pharmacist every year. There can be a lot going on during a doctor’s appointment or at your pharmacy, and it’s easy to forget the names of the drugs you take, what they’re prescribed for, symptoms or side effects, and questions you may have.
The best way to remember the details of your medication routine is to write them down ahead of time. The National Institute on Aging has created worksheets that can help ensure you won’t forget a thing.
• Medication worksheet — Tracking your medications
• Symptom worksheet — Discussing changes in your health
• Question worksheet — Discussing your concerns with your doctor
Bring your completed forms to your appointment and give a copy of them to your doctor or pharmacist ahead of time. It will give them a chance to familiarize themselves with your health, prepare for your questions, and formulate questions of their own.
A good medication review depends on a lot of things, including how well you and your doctor communicate. If for some reason you feel you aren’t being heard or can’t be open, consider switching to a doctor that you’re more comfortable with. The languages they speak, their gender, and if they live or work in your community are a few of the things that can help you build a healthy patient-doctor relationship.
IBX members can search our online provider directory to find doctors, hospitals, pharmacy, vision, dental, and ancillary providers.
Once you’ve had a medication review, complete a wallet medication card and carry it with you. If you take multiple medications, consider wearing a medical ID bracelet that simply says, “On multiple meds. See wallet card,” to reduce the chance of drug interactions during a medical emergency.
This content was originally published on IBX Insights.
I manage aspects of Independence’s Medicare Part D benefit and support clinical and quality improvement efforts. My goal is to help enhance the health and well-being of the communities that Independence serves.