Many older Americans take multiple prescription medicines. Following the dosing schedules can be hard enough, and it gets more confusing when the drugs are prescribed by multiple doctors (general practitioner, specialists, etc.). Some medications can be harmful when mixed with others, and many pharmaceuticals have uncomfortable and/or dangerous side effects.
Most Americans over age 50 take an average of four prescription drugs each day.
How You can Help
By helping people create and maintain personal medication records, you can prevent medication errors and ensure that they take the prescribed amounts of their drugs on schedule. Benefits include:
- Helping prevent medication errors and dangerous drug interactions
- Helping people in your community feel more confident and organized about their medication schedules
- Helping people take more control over their health and well-being
- Helping people save money by taking generic drugs when possible, and by making their prescriptions more effective through proper dosing
Step 1: Choose One or More People You Would Like to Assist
Call a friend or neighbor who might be able to use some help organizing and maintaining medical records.
People over the age 60 account for over 40 percent of hospitalizations and more than half of all deaths from adverse drug reactions.
Step 2: List All Their Medications
If the person is interested, ask if s/he has a consolidated list of all the medications s/he's taking. (Most people don't.) Set up a time to share a copy of the personal medication record (below, under ‘Supplemental Materials’) with him or her.
Note: Ask the person to bring all medications s/he is taking to your meeting. This is the safest way to ensure that all drugs get listed on the personal medication record.
Have him or her fill out the personal medication record. If the person is unable to fill out the record, offer to help.
Step 3: Make Copies of the Personal Medication Record
Make at least two copies - one for home and one to be kept in a wallet in case of emergencies. Also make a copy for any caregivers, including those who do not live with the person - for example, an adult child who visits occasionally.
These records can be extremely helpful to medical professionals in the event of emergencies.
Step 4: Share the List with a Doctor or Pharmacist
Encourage the person to review his/her medication record with a pharmacist or physician. Offer to arrange or provide transportation to these appointments if s/he has issues getting there.
Reviewing the personal medication record should be a routine part of each doctor or pharmacy visit.
Step 5: Leave a Copy of "Easy Tips For Everyday Living":
This Rx Snapshot tip sheet (below, under "Supplemental Materials") has helpful reminders and ideas on how to manage medications. Encourage the person you are helping to keep the personal medication record and tip sheet together, in an easy-to-access location (i.e. NOT buried in a file cabinet).
Step 6: Spread the Word
If you would like to reach out more broadly, you can share this information with groups rather than an individual, and use the Wise-Up on Meds Quiz (below, under "Supplemental Materials") and Medicines Made Easy Video to help convey the importance of medication management. Distribute the Wise-Up on Meds Quiz first, but ask people not to begin filling it out. Then start the Medicines Made Easy video, a two-part video on YouTube. You will need an internet connection and a computer (or iPad or similar device) to access this. Here are direct links to the videos:
Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p2crw_txF0g
Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Lke7fcPJ78
Have people complete the quiz as they watch the video. After the video is done, review the quiz answers with the people in the room. This is a great way to reinforce the advice and lessons contained from the video.
Step 7: Inspire Others on CreateTheGood.org
KEEP UP THE GOOD! Visit www.CreateTheGood.org to connect with a range of opportunities to use your life experiences, skills and passions to benefit your community.