Q: I have read that many health problems result from incorrect handling or taking of medications. Could you address the importance of understanding how to use medications? A: I checked with a friend who is a pharmacist to see whether any particular areas could cause potential problems and was surprised at what I learned. Start by making sure your doctors know which other herbs, vitamins, supplements or other medications you are taking. The combination of any of these items with certain prescription drugs may cause unpleasant surprises. If you are taking a prescribed medication and want to start a new herb, vitamin, supplement or medication, check with your doctor first. If a new drug is prescribed, learn everything you can about it. Ask for literature about the drug so you can read about it and have reference material. Know what the drug is meant to do, when you should take it, how you should take it and how long you will have to take it. Ask what you should do if you forget to take a dose. One fairly common slip-up is the failure to check a prescription before leaving the pharmacy or receiving it in the mail. Make sure you have received the correct medicine, the right dose and the correct number of pills. If the prescription is new, review the literature received with it. Become aware of the size, shape and color of the pill and any markings on it. When possible, have all your prescriptions filled through the same pharmacy. The pharmacist then can know all the drugs you take and be on the lookout for potential interactions. Once your prescriptions are home, consider where to store them. Many people keep them in the bathroom medicine chest. Bathrooms tend to have moisture that can deteriorate medications, and the drugs could become less effective or even toxic. Instead, keep them in a moisture-free environment and in a place that children cannot access. If you have a prescription that you take only on occasion, check the expiration date before using. If the drug is out of date, it may be ineffective or toxic. Checking the date on over-the-counter medications is as important as it is for prescribed medications. Last but not least, don’t lend or borrow prescribed medications and never take a drug that is prescribed for someone else. HAPPENINGS Wednesday: Mike Williams of Grey Law will present “Estate Planning and More.” 5:30-6:30 p.m.; Ventura County Law Library, 800 S. Victoria Ave., Ventura. For information, call 642-8982. Thursday: Seminar on Medicare fraud and durable medical equipment changes. 1-2 p.m.; Camarillo Health Care District, Camarillo. For information, call 477-7310. Saturday: “Brain Fitness Program” review. 9-10 a.m.; Westlake Village Civic Center, 31200 E. Oak Crest Drive, Westlake Village. No reservations required. May 1: “Depression Is Not a Normal Part of Aging” presentation Thousand Oaks Council on Aging. 1-3 p.m.; Civic Arts Plaza, 2200 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks. Dr. Lisa Hayden will present information about two new programs dealing with depression. For information, call 381-7362. More …
Practice caution when taking medications
About the Author: Betty Berry
Betty Berry brings a deep understanding of senior issues to her position as Senior Advocate for Senior Concerns. She has advocated for seniors since 1993. Through the Health Insurance Counseling Advocacy Program, known as HICAP, she is registered with the State of California as an Insurance Counselor, a Long-Term Care Insurance Counselor and a Community Educator. She has served on the Area Agency on Aging’s Advisory Council as a member and Chair, has been a member of the Financial Abuse Strategic Team (FAST) and currently serves on the Conejo Senior Volunteer Program (CSVP) Advisory Board and authors the Senior Advocate column that appears in the Ventura County Star. Betty completed her undergraduate degree at California Lutheran University and earned her Juris Doctorate degree at Ventura College of Law.
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