Three Tips to Improve Medication Communication for Older Adults

October is Talk About Your Medications Month and if you’re like most older adults in America, your morning routine probably starts off with a steaming cup of coffee and a handful of pills. This is also followed up with two or three more rounds of medications throughout the day.

According to a 2017 article produced by the American Association of Retired Persons, (AARP), older adults use more prescription drugs than any other age group within the United States.

In a world where the aging population is constantly surrounded by prescriptions, these three tips to improve medication communication for older adults can help ward off any negative outcomes of misuse.

  1. Talk to Your Doctor

As soon as you enter the doctor’s office, it’s important to know the exact medications you’re on. This way if your doctor wants to write you a new prescription, you will know what medications to discuss. Writing everything down on a worksheet or some kind of easily accessible file is a great way to keep track of all your medications and drug-related questions. Finally, make sure to talk with your doctor if you’ve experienced any allergies or problems during medication use. When in doubt speak out!

  1. Have Someone Check

Unfortunately, aging comes along with an increase in chronic medical conditions and higher pain rates. This results in more prescription drug use for longer periods of time. On top of these statistics, common traits of aging such as memory impairment, hearing loss and minimal vision can all affect how older adults take their medications. Ask someone you trust such as a caregiver or relative to check your medications regularly to make sure you are taking the correct dosage. If possible, they can even assist you during your next doctor’s visit just to have a second set of ears.

  1. Read Beers®

As we age, the chances of experiencing medication side effects increase. This brings along many challenges for older adults mainly in the form of harmful interactions. According to the 2015 Beers® Criteria for Potentially Inappropriate Medication Use in Older Adults, one in six older adults age 65 or older has one or more harmful reactions to medication. Reading the 2015 AGS Beers® Criteria and sharing the resource with others can be useful in educating the older population when it comes to reducing negative drug outcomes.