Seniors are more likely to take multiple medications. They’re also more sensitive to drugs’ effects, both therapeutic and negative. Declining vision, hearing, and memory also contribute to medication risks. The tips below will help you prevent mistakes and adverse drug reactions.

  1. Participate. Safe medication use is a shared responsibility between you, your doctor, the pharmacist, and other healthcare providers. Know your medications and ask questions if you’re not sure how, when, or why to take any drug.
  2. Follow directions. Always follow your doctor’s directions about taking medications. There are often important reasons to take a medication at a specific dose and time.
  3. Keep a list. A current list of your medications, including the times and reasons you take each one, will help your providers adjust your medications and identify potential interactions. Don’t leave out over-the-counter drugs, herbal medications, and supplements.
  4. Read prescriptions and labels. Read new prescriptions before leaving the doctor’s office and ask questions if the instructions are unclear. Do the same with labels when you receive the medication.
  5. Avoid others’ medications. Taking other people’s drugs may cause adverse reactions or interactions. Never take prescription medications your doctor has not prescribed for you.
  6. Store medications properly. Most should be stored in a dry place at room temperature, away from direct sunlight, and out of children’s reach; others may require refrigeration. Throw away expired medications, which may be ineffective or even toxic.
  7. When in doubt, ask. Your doctor and pharmacist are valuable resources for drug information. Your questions help them know what additional information to provide you.

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