TIPS FOR USING MEDICATIONS WISELY

By Carol Story, Faith Community Nurse

DID YOU KNOW?  RX MATTERS: Medicine and Alcohol Misuse Can Happen UNINTENTIONALLY:
Prescription drugs and over the counter medications are some of the most important health care tools available. However, those who need them most are at the greatest risk of using them incorrectly.

Using medications incorrectly is the leading cause of falls or accidentally poisoning of older adults.

Medications include prescription drugs, over the counter products and herbal remedies that come in pill, capsule, powder, or liquid form.

MISUSE AND ABUSE WARNING SIGNS
Caution: some general warning signs of drug abuse and addiction can be seen as a normal part of the aging process or attributed to other disease, resulting in a missed diagnosis of the addiction.

  • Sleep problems, fatigue, memory loss or mood swings
  • Chronic health problems, accidents or falls
  • Loss of interest in hobbies or other social activities
  • Unsteady gait, unexplained bruises or frequent fall
  • Slurring words, defensiveness or increased stress

ABUSE OR ADDICTION WARNING SIGNS
Note: the following are specific signs of drug abuse and addiction and less likely to be seen as a normal part of the aging process or attributed to other diseases.

  • Finding illegal drugs or drug paraphernalia
  • Often clearly under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Complaining about doctors who refuse to write prescriptions for preferred addictive drugs
  • Increased use of illegal drugs or taking more pills than prescribed because the drugs “just aren’t helping anymore”
  • Intentionally abusing drugs with the intent to hurt themselves
  • Missing medications or drinking alcohol with medications despite warning not to do so
  • Going to multiple doctors – “doctor shopping” – for additional prescriptions of addictive drugs
  • Deliberate choice not to tell doctor of all prescriptions or illegal drugs they may be taking

MANAGING YOUR PRESECRIPTIONS: What can you do?

  • MAKE A LIST of all the medication you take and keep a copy of it in your wallet or purse.
  • ASK your Pharmacist or Doctor if you have questions about your medication or your dose.
  • ASK your Pharmacist how your prescription will interact with over the counter or herbal medications.
  • READ THE INFORMATION sheet that comes with your medications and prescriptions.
  • TAKE YOUR MEDICINE exactly as prescribed by your Doctor. Do not stop taking your medication, or alter the does unless your Doctor tells you to do so.
  • DO NOT SKIP DOSES of medication or take half doses to save money.
  • AVOID MIXING ALCOLHOL with your medications. It could be fatal.
  • NEVER BORROW OR SHARE your medications with others.    

BROCHURE INFORMATION PROVIDED BY AREA AGENCY ON AGING AND PRESENTED BY MARICOPA ELDER BEHAVORIAL HEALTH ADVOCACY COALITION.

COMMUNITY RESOURCES:
SENIOR HELP LINE: 602-264-4357
BANNER POSION CONTROL CENTER: 800-222-1222
PRESCRIPTION ASSISTANCE: 888-477-2669