• Special Considerations for Older Patients Taking Medications

     
     
     
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    Meds Woman Blue BlousePrescriptions Drug Costs and Medicare

    As you age, you will probably use more medications. And yet at the same time, you will have to afford those medications with a fixed income. If you’re concerned about that, ask your doctor, pharmacist, or insurance company about ways to save on your medications (See How to Afford Your Medication]). If you are counting on your Medicare prescription drug plan to cover the cost of your medication, watch out for the “donut hole.” (See SecondsCount’s Guide to Healthcare Reform - Impact on Medicare to learn more about how the “donut hole” might affect your prescription drug costs.) Until that gap in coverage is closed, you might have to pay more for your medications.

    Age, Side Effects, and Drug Interactions

    If you do take more than a few medications, it’s very important to go over them at least once a year with your doctor to eliminate any that are unnecessary and to identify drug interactions. And, don’t forget to include supplements and over-the-counter medications.

    As a senior, you are greater risk for problems with your medications, such as depression, constipation, and confusion. And, some side effects, for example dizziness, can lead to other problems such as losing your balance, falling down, and hurting yourself.

    Older adults also have more problems than younger people with certain drugs. Check Beer’s Criteria for medications that people over 65 should avoid and check with your doctor.

    Physical Limitations

    Finally, it’s important to remember that your hearing, vision, and memory may not be what they used be, which can interfere with communication among you, your doctor, and any other caregivers. So whenever possible, ask questions and repeat instructions to be sure that you understand everything correctly.  

    Resources

    Medication Training Use for Seniors

    hosted by the Nation Council National Council on Patient Information and Educationoffers tools and tips to help seniors take their medications properly.

    Health Assistance Partnership

    provides counseling and assistance to Medicare beneficiaries and their caregivers with the healthcare system and including Medicare prescription drug coverage.

    AARP Prescription Discount Program

    offers a handy pharmacy locator in addition to a discount drug program.

    FDA’s Common Drug Interactions

    provides information to help you avoid drug interactions.