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Get the Most Out of Your Medication

Patrick Nowak RN, BScN

Medication can help older adults improve or maintain their health. Medication includes prescriptions, over-the-counter medication, vitamins, supplements, and herbal or topical creams. The way medication affects a person can change as one gets older or when their health conditions varies. For example, some medication can cause dizziness and increase the risk of a fall.

Here are some tips to get the most out of your medication regimen while minimizing the chances of a fall.

Know Your Medication

Know the names of your medication and what each is for. Keep an up-to-date list of all your prescriptions, over-the-counter medication, vitamins, and other remedies and supplements. Review your medication with your health care providers or pharmacist. Ask your pharmacist about MedsCheck, a program available to get an annual medication review if you have a valid health card and are on three or more medications for a chronic condition.

Take as Directed

Take your medication as directed by your healthcare provider and speak with them before stopping or increasing the dose of any medication. Consider using a dosette or blister pack to separate your medication by day and time to avoid missing or doubling up on a dose. Store your medication in a dry place, not in the bathroom or over the stove. Store your medication in the fridge if directed and try to store them in a place that can’t be accessed by others.

Effects and Interactions

To help avoid interactions, speak to your pharmacist or health care provider before adding new supplements and vitamins to your routine. Use one pharmacy as it’s easier to keep track of medications and any potential interactions. Ask your pharmacist about any side effects that can influence balance. Pick up one of our medication clean-out bags if you have any medication that is expired or no longer in use. It is important to return any expired or unneeded medication back to your pharmacy. These bags are available at most pharmacies and at the Porcupine Health Unit.

We want all older adults to stay active, stay independent, and stay on their feet. There are many community resources and programs that can help you or a loved one reduce their risk of falling. If you are unsure of whether you or a loved one is at risk, contact the health unit to obtain more information. For more information on medication management or how to prevent falls, contact me at the Porcupine Health Unit by email or at 705-267-1181 ext. 2369.