September 7, 2019

By : Nathan Evers, PharmD, BCACP

As people age, they tend to take more medications to treat high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, congestive heart failure (CHF), arthritis and COPD. Plus, over-the-counter pain relievers, daily vitamins and other supplements tend to be in the mix.

These medications can help you live longer and reduce symptoms so you can enjoy life with your family and friends. 

However, no medication is benign. Every medication affects your body. We also know medications can work differently in older adults. And when people are taking multiple medications to treat several conditions, it becomes more important than ever to ensure the medications are working effectively and safely together.

As a clinical pharmacist, I lead the Medication Therapy Management department at Mankato Clinic. Through this new service, I work with patients and providers to make sure their medications are working well for them. Beginning with a medication review which is a one-on-one consultation, I look for interactions between prescription and over-the-counter medications, vitamins and herbal remedies. The goal is to ensure everything patients are taking are safe, appropriate and effective together.

Here’s how you can take medications more safely:

Keep Track of All of Your Medications

Make a list of everything you take, doses and frequency. Your list should include all medications, supplements, vitamins and herbal remedies. For example, if you take an antihistamine during allergy season, make sure it’s on your list.

Take as Directed

About 50 percent of patients are not taking their medications as prescribed according to the National Center for Biotechnology. It’s important to take medications as directed. Sometimes it means reading the directions more closely or talking to your pharmacy or healthcare provider. If you know you aren’t taking the medication as prescribed, talk to your healthcare provider. Your provider may have a better recommendation.

Use the Same pharmacy

Use the same pharmacy for all your prescriptions. When you receive a new prescription, your pharmacist can alert you to possible interactions with current prescriptions. Sometimes a hospital, surgery center or specialist who prescribes a medication isn’t aware of your current medication regimen. Your pharmacist is a valuable resource when you fill a new prescription.

Watch for Side Effects

Ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist about side effects. If you notice any side effects, tell your healthcare provider as soon as possible. 

Medication Review

Healthcare providers recommend bringing all your medications to your annual checkups. At Mankato Clinic, you can also schedule a medication review with a clinical pharmacist through Medication Therapy Management. During this one-on-one consultation, we will look at all of the medications, vitamins and supplements you are taking and make sure everything is working well together. The appointment takes less than an hour. The review can help people on multiple medications simplify their medication routine, reduce side effects, save money and improve their overall health.

Learn more about Medication Therapy Management