Medication Safety for Seniors

Medication Safety for Seniors

Medications, vitamins, painkillers, allergy medicines, supplements are all used by seniors.  According to research, one in six seniors use prescriptions and other medications at the same time.  In this era of multiple doctors, prescriptions and over-the-counter medications there is much risk for drug interactions, mix-ups and possible side effects.  It is not just prescribed medications that must be watched, but herbal supplements, vitamins, allergy and sleeping pills and over-the-counter pain medications as well.  Knowledge and communication are key to keeping seniors safe.  Seniors can be reluctant to tell their doctors the non-prescription medications they are taking (including vitamins).


Seniors need help if they:

  • Live alone
  • Take 3+ medications, including non-prescription medicines and herbal or dietary supplements
  • Get prescriptions from more than one doctor
  • Fill prescriptions at more than one pharmacy
  • Are forgetful/have memory issues
  • Have poor eyesight


Keep up-to-date on the medications your seniors are taking.  Adhere to ‘discard’ and ‘expiration’ dates.  Safely dispose old medicines.  At a minimum, once a year, bring all the medications – prescribed and over-the-counter – to the primary physician for advice. Make sure you and the senior in your life understand what each is for, side effects, dosages, how long each should be taken, if lab tests are needed to monitor treatment, when each medication should be stopped and if there are possible interactions between medications.  When filling a new prescription, bring a list of current medications so the pharmacy can update their records to ensure there are no unforeseen complications.


Over-the-counter medications can be problematic for seniors.  These medications may alleviate temporary minor symptoms such as headaches, indigestion or colds but seniors may also have unexpected interactions and/or side effects causing potential harm.  Seniors may also not take the medications as directed or get them mixed up which also can cause distress.


Recently, one of my clients told me his pharmacy called to say his prescription was ready.  I wasn’t aware a prescription was due so we contacted the pharmacy to find out it was a prescription for an antibiotic.  However he was already on a different antibiotic.  His urologist and his primary physician prescribed different antibiotics for different infections without telling the other.  By being pro-active we were able to prevent a possible serious situation.


We here at The Seniors Answer specialize in helping seniors stay safe and have a team devised to tackle and manage concerns that seniors may have.  We are experts in wide range of life management issues that can help seniors make sure their golden years stay golden.