As you get older, especially if you are living with chronic conditions, you may need to take a variety of over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medications, along with vitamins and supplements.
The good news is that all these pills can improve your health and make you more comfortable. The bad news? It can get increasingly difficult to keep track of them all, and the chances of dangerous interactions and overdoses increase with every new pill — even the vitamins.
Here are simple ways to help keep it all straight and protect yourself and your family.
• Make a list of all of your medications and their current dosages. Keep a copy in your purse or wallet and one in the home where it is easily accessible to other family members in case of an emergency. Include OTC products, vitamins and other supplements. Give a copy to a loved one or a trusted neighbor.
• Update the list whenever there is a new medication or dosage change.
• Get all of your prescriptions filled at the same pharmacy, and talk to your pharmacists (as well as your doctors) about any potential adverse interactions or side effects.
• Store medications in a safe place, away from children, in their original containers. Keep them in a dry, cool place as moisture and the sun can affect potency.
• Never change the dosage without consulting your healthcare provider.
• Having trouble remembering which pills to take when? Use a pillbox labeled with the days of the week and different times of day. Refill it once a week on the same day. If you forget to take a pill, you will know because it will still be in the box.
• Set an alarm on a watch or phone if you have trouble remembering to take your medication at a certain time of day.
• Pay attention to which medications must be taken with food or any other special instructions.
• Some medications may make you more susceptible to the sun’s harmful rays. Read all directions carefully and make a note on your medication list of special circumstances.
• Finally, when disposing of unused medication, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends mixing medication with an unpalatable substance, such as coffee grounds or cat litter, and sealing in a plastic bag before tossing into the trash.