1: How many times did you forget to take your medications this last month? Are you taking the right dose at the right time and are you following the instructions religiously? I am pretty conscientious about taking my medications but even the system I use fails me from time to time. It isn’t a life or death situation because my medications are pretty innocuous, but the day may come when the some of the big guns will be necessary. You might be surprised to learn that a fairly large number of seniors do not have a system when it comes to taking their pills. People who are independent in every other way will have pill bottles scattered all over the house, and depend on memory only to keep things straight. This is scary. There are many medication reminder systems on the market. You may only need a simple decorative pill box, but don’t be ashamed if you need reminder calls or alarms to keep you on track.
2- How many pills are you taking every day? - If you need a huge Mediset box to coordinate the dozens of pills you are taking, you may be taking too many pills. Magazine ads and television commercials sell us on the idea that we need pills for everything. I have a friend who devotes an entire kitchen cabinet to over-the-counter pills and powders. I don’t know what most of them are for, but I do know that they didn’t come from a doctor. We have become caught up in a culture that leads us to believe there is a pill for everything. We take pills because we think they are good for us, we take pills because we feel depressed, we take pills to boost our libido, we take pills to lose weight, we take pills to keep us from getting colds and we take pills to help us sleep. Too many pills may be sabotaging our health.
3- Know what you are taking. Do not sabotage your health by taking all or any of the latest fad medications. Your health care team is your first line of defense. The latest AARP (April 2012) newsletter featured an article about supplements and how they can cause more problems than they cure. I hope you are reading the host of interesting articles featured in this and other senior publications, even if you don’t think you are old enough to be one of “them.” I hate to tell you this, but you are already one of “them”, and the information could very well be pertinent to you or to someone you love. This particular article took a look at some of supplements commonly squirreled away in your cupboard, and it discussed possible side effects when taken in conjunction with prescription drugs (www.aarp.org/bulletin). Chronic health conditions and a plethora of prescription medications make older adults more vulnerable to drug interactions than most. The more medications you take, the more vulnerable you are to drug interactions. That isn’t to say that some supplements aren’t helpful and generally safe, but the moral of the story is that your doctor and pharmacist need to know what you are taking so that something does go awry they know where to look for answers.