If you have been prescribed a number of medications, you may find it difficult to remember what dose to take, in what order and what time of day to take each one. Here are common medication mistakes and a few quick fixes for getting the most benefit from your daily regimen.
1. Skipping Doses or Stopping a Medicine without Discussing It with Your Doctor
Why it’s not a good idea: Skipping doses can prevent you from having the full benefit of the medication. Even worse, stopping some medicines without your doctor’s advice can put you at risk of medical problems and unpleasant or serious withdrawal symptoms and side effects.
- If you think a medicine is causing side effects, contact your healthcare provider or a Rite Aid Pharmacist before stopping or changing how you take it.
- If you don’t think you need a specific medicine, talk to your physician or Rite Aid Pharmacist to learn more and confirm that it is appropriate for you.
- If a medicine is over your budget, ask your physician for a less-expensive generic or an alternative therapy. Or visit the Rite Aid webpage for information on Insurance & Prescription Savings.
- Not sure whether you are taking your medication as prescribed? See how you are doing by getting your Rx Score from your Rite Aid Pharmacist.
2. Not Keeping a List of Your Medications
Why it’s not a good idea: Mixing certain medications can be dangerous and if you see more than one healthcare provider, you may end up with multiple strengths of the same prescription. A list can help you remember what you're taking and enable your physician or Rite Aid Pharmacist to make sure you don't double up or mix medications that may have harmful side effects.
- Write down a list of all the medicines you take, (include over-the-counter medications, vitamins and herbal products), with brand name and generic name, strength, dose, and how often you take it. Include any special notes, such as taking it on an empty stomach or taking it with food. You may find it helpful to use an online tracking tool, such as “My Pharmacy” on the Rite Aid web portal.
- Keep the list with you so you have it at doctor or clinic visits, when you are traveling, or in case of an emergency. Give a copy to a trusted friend, family member, or caregiver for back-up.
3. Being Unaware of Potential Interactions
Why it’s not a good idea: As people age, they are at higher risk for medicine interactions. The more types that you take, the greater the chance that they will interact with not only each other, but also with over-the-counter supplements, foods, alcohol, or even specific health conditions.
- Talk to your Rite Aid Pharmacist about any interactions your medication(s) might have. Carefully review over-the-counter medicine labels for potential interactions.
- Pay close attention to the strengths and doses because some medications are available as a prescription and over the counter. By carefully checking the strengths and doses, you can avoid taking too much of a specific medicine.
- Read about your specific medicines on the “Drug Information” page of the Rite Aid website.
4. Skipping Regular Reviews with Your Healthcare Provider
Why it’s not a good idea: You could end up with duplicate medicines or with ones that interact, especially if you are seeing more than one healthcare provider. Also, your medicinal needs may change over time.
- Set up routine office visits with your physician, at least on an annual basis, to review your current list of medications.
- Be sure to have your medicines reviewed if you have recently spent time in the hospital.
- If more than one doctor prescribes medication for you, review them with your main physician or a Rite Aid Pharmacist to make sure there are no potential interactions or duplications.
5. Not Sticking to a Schedule
Why it’s not a good idea: You run the risk of missing a dose or taking an extra dose if you don’t have a schedule. Also, some medicines shouldn’t be taken at the same time and some should not be taken with or without certain foods or meals.
- Consider using a daily pill box and filling it at the start of each week.
- Make a checklist of each medicine you take, the amount you take, the time of day you take it, and whether it should be taken with or without food. Keep one list where your medicine is stored and another in your wallet or purse.
- Download an app on your phone or smart tablet.
Have more questions about common medication mistakes? You can get advice from your Rite Aid Pharmacist in person, by phone, or with “Chat with a Pharmacist” online /pharmacy/chat-with-a-pharmacist
“Adults and Older Adult Adverse Drug Events.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Updated October 2, 2012. http://www.cdc.gov/medicationsafety/adult_adversedrugevents.html
“Four Medication Safety Tips for Older Adults.” Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Updated February 26, 2015. http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm399834.htm
“Managing Your Medications.” National Institutes of Health Senior Health. http://nihseniorhealth.gov/takingmedicines/managingyourmedicines/01.html. Accessed June 2, 2016.
“Be Smart About Medicine.” AARP. February 2009.http://www.aarp.org/relationships/caregiving/info-02-2009/ginzler_wise_use.1.html