What You Should Know About Your Elderly Parent’s Medications

Once your elderly mom or dad gets a drug prescription from the doctor because of his or her current condition, here are the things you need to know and ask as part of your parent’s caregiving team.

Name and dosage of the drug

Know the drug’s name and dosage and understand why the doctor prescribed it for your parent. Ask if it needs to be bought with a prescription or if it can be bought immediately over the counter. For more clarity, you can ask the doctor to write out the medication and dose, as well as what condition the medication is treating. You can do research of your own – the internet offers a lot of information you can use to your advantage.

Common side effects

Some drugs induce drowsiness, hunger, or fatigue. Will your parent experience any side effects when he or she takes this drug? Since side effects are normal, you don’t need to worry. But there are also drug effects that are dangerous, known as adverse effects. Are there signs and symptoms you should look out for? List the common side effects brought about by the drug to know if your parent’s body reaction is normal or not.

How to take it

Does your parent need to drink a glass of water with it? A glass of juice? Or should the tablet stay under the tongue until it melts? Or should he dissolve it in water? There are many different ways of taking in medicine to ensure proper absorption. Make sure you listen to the doctor’s instructions and read the directions carefully. If you find inconsistencies, clarify it with your parent’s doctor.

When to take it, how often and for how long

Ask the doctor when your parent should take the drug, how often and for how long. There are medications that should be taken four times a day, or after every meal, between meals, or when needed. Also know how long it should be taken and what to do if your parent misses a dose.

Possible drug interactions

It is imperative to talk to the doctor about your mom or dad’s current medications (herbal remedies, supplements, eye drops included) because they might not work well with the new drug. Harmful drug interactions may happen if two medications go against each other.  It is also best to describe to the doctor your parent’s usual allergic reactions.

Special instructions

Are there any food and drinks to avoid when taking the medicine? Are there any activities that should be prevented hours before or after the dose? Is there a possibility of addiction?


Other important reminders:

1. If you think the medicine doesn’t work, check with the doctor first before deciding to stop the drug.

2. If your parent is showing signs of difficulty in breathing, inform your doctor immediately.

3. Go to one pharmacist. This way, the pharmacist will know what medications may be harmful when taken side by side.

4. For less confusion, use a pill organizer at home.

5. Make a medication list and always review them with your parent before he or she takes them.

About the author: Melissa Page is a passionate writer from San Diego, California, who works for a medical staffing company and a group of pharmaceutical lawyers. When she’s not writing, she’s out bowling with her friends.



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