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8 Ways to Keep Track of Your Medications and Avoid Dangerous Errors

By Home For Life Solutions and Village Helpers In-Home Care

8 Ways to Keep Track of Your Medications and Avoid Dangerous ErrorsHow many medications do you take? And how often do you take them? According to a Mayo Clinic study, over half of U.S. adults take two or more prescription drugs. Add in over-the-counter medications or a recent hospital stay, and the numbers can skyrocket.

The US Food & Drug Administration says 1.3 million people are injured due to medication errors each year. Being an active participant of your own health care team can avoid dangerous mistakes. Here are some steps you can take:

1. Ask questions.
It may be helpful to keep a single notebook for your health care appointments. Write down your questions before you see the doctor so you stay organized during your visit. Be sure you understand what the doctor is prescribing, what it is supposed to do, how often to take it and when to take it. Take notes on possible side effects to watch for or interactions with foods or other medications.

2. Bring a friend or family member.
If you are easily overwhelmed or aren’t sure you’ll understand it all (it’s OK – health “lingo” doesn’t come naturally to everyone), a second set of ears can be especially helpful.

3. Keep a list.
Not all medications interact well with other medicines. Make a list of all prescription and over-the-counter medications and supplements you are taking – and keep it current. AARP has an easy-to-use chart that you can print out. Search for “My Personal Medication Record.”

4. Use the same pharmacy.
Unfortunately, communications between doctors’ offices sometimes does not go smoothly, and your cardiologist may not be aware of what your orthopedist prescribed for your hip pain. But your pharmacist knows. If you have all of your prescriptions filled at the same pharmacy, they can keep track of what you are taking and whether any dangerous interactions might take place.

5. READ THE LABELS, WARNINGS, PACKAGING AND INSERTS, AND FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS.
They contain valuable information about side effects to watch for and possible food or drug interactions. More is not always better. If it says take one – take one, unless your doctor has told you it’s OK to take two.

6. Know the ingredients.
Especially when you’re taking cold and allergy medication. Be aware of whether that cough/cold/sneezing medicine also contains acetaminophen or ibuprofen. If so, then don’t take Advil or Tylenol, too. You could overdose yourself.

7. Make a chart. Use a pillbox.
Download an app.
If you’re taking drugs with different dosing schedules – perhaps one is twice a day, one is three times a day, and another is every other day – it’s time to find a tool to help you stay on track. Whether you put it in writing, use a pillbox or download a reminder app for your smart phone, find a way to stay organized so you don’t have to ask yourself later, “Did I take that?”

8. Still need help?
It may be that you need a helping hand. There are some great medication management machines out there that can be pre-loaded and dispense your medications at the appropriate times, like the MedReady machine available through Home For Life Solutions. Or if the personal touch works better for you, Village Helpers In-Home Care can send someone to your home to remind you to take your medicine, and do a little housekeeping or shopping for you too.

To learn more about Home For Life Solutions or Village Helpers In-Home Care, visit our website at www.JKVHealthServices.org. Call Village Helpers at 816-524-2676 or Home For Life Solutions at 816-347-4590.

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