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SENIORS: What a senior needs to ask about prescriptions

Seniors who are seeing multiple doctors are at increased risk of medication problems so their loved ones should try to ensure older adults have one doctor overseeing all of their medications.

Seniors who are seeing multiple doctors are at increased risk of medication problems so their loved ones should try to ensure older adults have one doctor overseeing all of their medications.

As well, they should look for an independent pharmacy or a specialist in geriatrics, geriatric pharmacotherapy and the unique medication-related needs of the geriatric population.

Home Instead Senior Care has put together the following list of questions that seniors and family caregivers should ask a doctor about their prescriptions:

What is the name of this medication and why do I need it?

What is this medication supposed to do?

What is the correct dosage?

How does this drug interact with other medications I am taking?

How do I take it - with or without food?

When do I take it - morning or evening?

What are benefits and risks of the medication?

What are the side effects of the medicine and what do I do if they occur?

What food, drinks, other medicines or activities should I avoid while taking the medicine?

How often must the doctor check the medicine's effects? (For example, checking your blood pressure if you are taking a medicine to lower it, or having a laboratory test done to make sure the levels of medicine in your blood are not too high or too low.)

Do I need a refill and how do I get one?

Is there written information I can take home about the medication? (Most pharmacies have information sheets on your prescription medicines.)

Warning Signs

Seniors and family caregivers should look for warning signs that can indicate a problem with a medication. "When there is a change in medication, you should watch for changes in behaviour," said Pronica Janikowski, professional development co-ordinator of the Canadian Society of Consultant Pharmacists. Medication-related problems can cause, aggravate or contribute to common and costly geriatric problems including confusion, depression, dizziness, falls, incontinence, insomnia, loss of co-ordination, memory loss and psychiatric problems.

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