Nine important questions a caregiver, or family member, should ask the pharmacist

1. What is the brand name and generic name of this medication?
Does the name on the pill container match what the doctor prescribed? If not, why? Confirming the drug name and whether the doctor requested the brand name or generic medication helps avoid medication errors. 

2. What is this medication for? Does this take the place of anything else that’s currently being taken?
For many older adults, multiple medications may be required to manage their health condition, or even to manage the side effects from a needed primary treatment. This helps reduce the chance of negative drug interactions and side effects.

3. Are there any duplicate or unneeded medications?
Some older adults may get some of their medications from a neighbourhood pharmacy and others from a mail order pharmacy. Or, they might be seeing more than one doctor or specialist. In these cases, it’s important to make sure that any pharmacist that you’re able to see in person,  knows all the medications your older adult is currently taking.

4. How and when should this medication be taken?
All the important instructions should be clearly displayed on the prescription label. But asking the pharmacist helps clear up anything that’s even a little confusing and makes sure you won’t miss key details.

5. What should we do if we miss a dose? What if we accidentally take too much?
This is an important question for a variety of drugs, where a patient may become ill from skipping a dose or from accidentally taking two doses in one day. 

6. When will the medicine start working? Is there anything we should watch for, like allergic reactions or side effects?
A pharmacist who is aware of all the medications a patient is taking can point out possible side effects, like an increased risk of upset stomach due to the specific combination of treatments.

7. Should the patient avoid any other medicines, dietary supplements, foods, or activities while taking this medication?
This is key information that should be included on the prescription label, but asking the pharmacist helps to highlight the warnings most relevant to your older adult’s situation. For example, they could be at an increased risk of dizziness or falling.

8. How should this medication be stored?
A warm, humid bathroom is often not the best place to store prescriptions. Asking the pharmacist about storage helps you safely manage medications.

9. How long do these medications need to be taken?
Some medications are meant for short-term use for acute conditions, like antibiotics for an infection or pain pills for a broken bone or post-surgery recovery. Other medications, like treatments for high blood pressure, diabetes, or high cholesterol, may need to be taken for the rest of a patient’s life. Make sure you understand how long each specific medication needs to be taken and when the need should be re-evaluated.

Courtesy of DailyCaring