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Tips to Better Understand Your Medications

When we are sick, we turn to medications to make us healthy. Medications keep many chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and arthritis in check. They make pains go away, allergy symptoms disappear, viruses vanish and feelings of depression and anxiety manageable. When used correctly, medications make our lives so much better. However, on the flip side, when medications aren’t used correctly, your health can take a major turn for the worse. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, 53 percent of hospitalized patients who are there for medication-related injuries are over age 65.

Through its Community Classroom education series, Angels Care Home Health in Flagstaff strives to provide information on a variety of topics impacting seniors in their community, including medication management. Following are some strategies to ensure your medications work for you, not against you.

Strategy # 1: Communicate

Communication is the key to making your medicines work for you. Be sure your health care providers know every single medicine you take, including prescription, over-the-counter, vitamins and herbal supplements. Be sure all of your health care providers know about any allergies or adverse reactions you have had to medicines. Never assume your doctor already knows this information.


Strategy #2: Be Smart at the Pharmacy

Use one pharmacy for all of your prescription refills and do not hesitate to ask your pharmacist questions about the correct dose of your medicines, side effects and to verify that you are getting the exact medicine your doctor prescribed. If the directions on your medicine labels aren’t clear, ask.


Strategy #3: Ask These Five Questions

You should ask for information about your medicines in a language you can understand, both when your medicines are prescribed and when you get them, such as:

  1. What is the medicine for?
  1. How am I supposed to take it and for how long?
  2. What side effects are likely? What do I do if they occur?
  3. Is this medicine safe to take with other medicines or dietary supplements I am taking?
  4. What food, drink or activities should I avoid while taking this medicine?

Strategy #4: Get Support

Ask a family member or friend to go to your appointments with you. Your companion can serve as a second set of eyes and ears for you and may catch something you missed.


Strategy #5: Use a Medication Organizer

A slotted pill box may help you remember when to take your medicines. It also helps you to know how much medication remains in your stock bottles and allows you time to refill prescriptions.


Strategy #6: Store Medications Properly

Many people routinely store medications in the bathroom medicine cabinet, but temperature changes and moisture levels can alter the medication once it is opened. Be sure to read the packaging on prescription medications for storage instructions.


Strategy #7: Get a Yearly “Medication Check Up”

Get a “Medication Check Up” at least once a year. Ask your health care providers to review all of your medicines and determine whether all are needed, if there is the potential for drug interactions, or if dosage adjustments are needed.


Strategy #8: Take Your Medications as Directed

Angels Home Health CareThere are many reasons why people don’t follow a medication regimen prescribed by their doctor. Some may deny their illness and the need to take medications for it. Or, they may not have faith in the effectiveness of their treatment, so they find alternative methods of fixing themselves or they give up altogether. Contact your health care provider if you cannot afford your medicine. There is help.


Angels Care Home Health cares about its community and the patients it serves, which includes emphasizing the importance of managing medications and individuals taking a proactive approach to their health. By using the medication management strategies Angels Care has provided, you are helping to ensure that your medications promote your health and safety, not take away from it. FBN


For more information about Angels Care Home Health and the benefits of home health care, contact the Flagstaff office at 928-773-7570 or visit www.angelscarehealth.com/Flagstaff.

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