Taking Multiple Medications

Taking Multiple Medications

The use of numerous prescription and over-the-counter medications, sometimes called “polypharmacy,” is common among seniors. The risk of adverse drug events increases dramatically with the number of drugs you take.

You should be especially careful if you:

  • Take five or more medications
  • Take herbal medicines, vitamins, or over-the-counter products.
  • Take medications for three or more health problems.
  • Get prescriptions from two or more healthcare providers.
  • Use different pharmacies to fill your prescriptions.
  • Have not reviewed all of your medications and supplements with your primary care physician.

Questions to Ask Your Physician

  • Why am I taking this medication?
  • Does this drug duplicate any of the other medications I take?
  • How long will I take this drug?
  • Is this drug and dose appropriate for my age and health?
  • Does this medication interact with any other drugs, herbs, or over-the-counter products I currently take?

Recommendations

  • Keep a current list of your allergies and medications, including prescription, nonprescription, and herbal products, in your wallet.
  • Ask your doctor what to do if you miss a dose. Don’t double-up to make up for a missed dose.
  • Do not stop taking a medication without asking your doctor.
  • If you’ve recently been discharged from the hospital with new prescriptions, review with your doctor what medications to continue or discontinue from the list of drugs you were taking before you were hospitalized.
  • Get all your prescriptions filled by one pharmacy.
  • Use a daily medication reminder pillbox.