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man holding his medications

Managing Your Medication

Know Your Meds
Modern medicine has made our lives better, helping us live longer and healthier. But those over 65 have to be careful when taking medications, especially when taking multiple drugs. With antibiotics, pain relievers, prescription drugs and over-the-counter, brand-name versus generic, plus vitamins and dietary supplements to consider, managing your medication and avoiding harmful drug interactions can be daunting. So it's important to recognize that you are the number one factor in the safe use of medication.

Ten Simple Rules
Many things affect how your medications work: diet, lifestyle, what time of day you take your drugs, and the other prescription and over-the-counter medications you use. As we get older, taking multiple medications is often the rule rather than the exception, and the risk of drug interactions increases with the number of medications used.

To help protect yourself, make a list of all the drugs you take, including dosages. Update the list when a drug is added or dropped or a dosage has changed, and take your list to every health care appointment.

1. Take your exact dose as directed, each and every time.
2. Call your doctor or pharmacist if you have problems or side effects caused by your medicines.
3. Use memory aids, like a pillbox, to ensure you take your medicine on time.
4. Talk to your doctor if you cannot afford your medication. There might be an alternative.
5. Avoid mixing alcohol and medicine as much as possible.
6. Continue your medication until your doctor says it's okay to stop.
7. Monitor drug expiration dates and safely throw away (not down the sink or toilet) all that have expired.
8. Don't share your medication with anyone else.
9. Keep your medication in a safe place.
10. Always know exactly what you're taking and why.

And know this: Your doctor and pharmacist have a pivotal role in helping you manage your medication, but it's up to you to provide them with accurate information and ask for help. They can answer any questions you may have and provide sound advice to help you safeguard your health.

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