Medication and the Elderly: What You Need to Ask Your Pharmacist

always ask the pharmacist about medication and the elderlyWhen it comes to questions about medication, most people’s instinct is to ask the doctor. That’s not always the best call, though. Because there’s another, behind-the-scenes member of your loved one’s health team who likely knows even more about medication than the doctor does. Today we’re going to talk about what you need to ask your loved one’s pharmacist when it comes to medication and the elderly.

Why do I need to ask about my older loved one and medication?

That’s a good question. There are a few reasons:

  • There might be a cheaper option than the one the doctor prescribed
  • Prescriptions from multiple doctors can cause overlaps that could be missed
  • It’s important for you to have a handle on your loved one’s meds

Let’s get into it.

Questions to Ask the Pharmacist About Medication and the Elderly

What was this medication subscribed for?

This might sound like a silly question. But it isn’t. You would be really surprised to know how many times computer glitches cause mistakes in prescriptions. So it’s always better to double-check.

Once you know the answer is accurate, right it down. It’s important for you to keep a log of your loved one’s meds. Ask the pharmacist for the details of the medication – name, generic name, what it’s usually used for, what your loved one is taking it for (not necessarily the same thing), and how long they’re supposed to take it. This log is the first defense against mistakes and overlaps, something that occurs often in medications and the elderly – especially if multiple doctors are involved.

Should we expect any side effects?

This is really important. There are a large number of medications for the elderly that cause side effects, and you need to share this information with any other family members as well as the staff at your loved one’s residence. This way, if anyone else sees that your loved one is experiencing uncharacteristic drowsiness, insomnia, dizzy spells or mood swings, they’ll know it’s because of the medication and not a medical emergency.

How should my loved one take this medication?

Before food? After food? How many times a day? What happens if a dose is skipped? Even if your loved one is totally lucid, this can get confusing – especially if they’re taking multiple meds (which most seniors are). Write it down or enter it into your phone and print it out. Then hang or place it in an accessible place for easy reference.

Can my loved one save money by using a generic version of this medication?

Not all generic versions of medications have the same level of effectiveness. So even if the generic version is less expensive, your loved one might not be able to use it. You should also ask if your loved one’s insurance covers the generic version. If it doesn’t, your loved one might not save any money at all by using it.

Will this medication limit my loved one’s nutrition?

When it comes to medication and the elderly, there are some foods and drinks that just don’t work. They can cause the medication to be released into the bloodstream more slowly, and they can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb the medication. Again, this is information other family members need to know, as does the management of their residence.

How long will it take for the medication to show results?

Some meds have an immediate effect. Others need to build up in the body for a week, or month or even more. Tell your loved one how long it should take to see results so that they won’t feel impatient or disappointed.