Questions To Ask The Pharmacist About Seniors and Medication
#1: Why was this medication prescribed?
This question is the first defense against mistakes and prescription overlap. And you have no idea how often that can happen.
So ask your loved one’s pharmacist why the doctor prescribed this specific medication for your loved one. Then get the details: Write down the name (generic and brand), why your loved one is taking it, what it’s generally prescribed for, the dosage and duration of treatment. Keep this list in a notepad or on your computer or phone – or, better yet, all three.
#2: How should this medication be taken?
This is an important question in any situation at any age. But it’s especially relevant for seniors who are taking multiple medications. You need to know:
- Should me loved one take this on an empty stomach or after a meal?
- Can it be taken with liquids other than water? What about caffeine?
- What should my loved one do if they skip a dose?
- Are there foods or beverages that my loved one should avoid while taking this medication?
Again, write down the answers. You might even want to print out a chart and hang it in your loved one’s kitchen or, if they live in an assisted living or skilled nursing facility, in a prominent place in their suite.
#3: When should we expect to see results?
You want to ask this question so that no one – especially your loved one – has unrealistic expectations. Anyone can get impatient when they want to see medication work. So make sure that both you and your loved one know how long to wait before expecting to see any results from the medication.
#4: Does this medication have side effects unique to seniors?
When it comes to seniors and medication, this is a crucial question. There are a lot of medications prescribed for the elderly that cause side effects – not only physical but psychological as well. Write down the pharmacist’s answer and make sure that everyone involved in your loved one’s car is aware of what to expect. That means your own family, extended family members who come to visit or to offer care, and the staff at your loved one’s residence.
Why is this so crucial? Because if, say, your loved one suddenly presents with dizziness, drowsiness or mood swings – and these are perfectly normal side effects for the medication they’re taking – no one will get scared that your loved one is in medical crisis. They’ll be prepared to offer help and support instead of panic.
#5: Is there a generic brand of this medication that is as effective as the name brand?
The reason you need to phrase the question that way is that not all generic medications are as effective as the original. Also, not all of them are necessarily covered by your loved one’s insurance. If the prescribed medication does have a generic twin, you can save a lot of money over time.
Standing and talking to the pharmacist might sound like a waste of time. But these questions seniors need to ask their pharmacist are real, and the answers can make a huge difference in how effective the meds will be.