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Tips for safely using prescription medicines

July 16, 2014
By Judith Black - Health Matters , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

It's well known that age is a leading risk factor for many diseases and conditions that require regular use of various medications. Even though they can enable individuals to live healthier lives, it's important that seniors pay close attention to how to safely use their medication because many have side effects that can actually be harmful if used incorrectly.

Keeping your doctor up-to-speed on the medications you're taking is the most effective way to ensure safe medicine use. Whether it's a prescription drug, over-the-counter medications or daily vitamins, he or she will be able to help make sure you're using everything correctly and benefitting to the fullest from your medicine. To inform your doctor on all of your medications and how they're affecting your health, try these helpful tips:

- Bring all of your medications, including prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs and vitamins, to your next doctor's visit. This will give you the opportunity to have questions answered and address any issues you may be experiencing.

Article Photos

Dr. Judith Black is the medical director for Senior Markets at Highmark Inc.

- If you're unsure of why you're taking a drug, ask your doctor. It's important that you're aware of the role medications play in managing your medical condition.

- Let your doctor know if you're not taking a medication as directed. For example, if you begin to reduce, skip or stop medication dosages altogether because of side effects.

- If cost is an area of concern, ask your doctor about generic options or other lower-cost alternatives.

Some foods, drinks or activities may cause your medications to be ineffective or even harmful to your health. Be sure to consult your doctor or pharmacist about how to properly take your prescription. Also, remember to keep your medicine out of reach from your grandchildren so they can't easily access it.

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