QUESTION:  It seems I am hearing more and more about problems from prescription drug side effects and errors.  How can we protect ourselves?

  ANSWER:  Since there will always be side effects from prescription drugs and errors will happen each one of us must take personal responsibility for understanding the medications, both prescribed and over-the-counter, that we take.

  This responsibility begins at the doctor’s office.  The key to avoiding problems is information.  You should be fully informed about dosages, side effects and allergy risks.


  Also you should inform your doctor about any other drugs, prescribed, over-the-counter or vitamins that you are taking.  If you have been or are allergic to any particular drugs or food you need to make the doctor aware. 

  When you leave the doctor’s office you should know why the drug is being prescribed, the exact dosage being prescribed and how and when the drug should be taken.

  The next most important person involved in your medications is the pharmacist.  Plan to have all your prescriptions filled at one drugstore.  When picking up your prescription double check the name of the drug and what the pills look like.  Review how and when to take them and also ask for any printed information that is available.

  Now that you have your new drug at home – are you taking it properly?  There are a number of mistakes that can undo the good of the drug that has been prescribed for you.

  Mistake number one is ignoring the label on the bottle and the information provided by your doctor resulting in taking the wrong dosage or at the wrong time.  This can be dangerous.

  The next mistake is missing or skipping the dosage at the time prescribed.  This is easy to do.  You should either store the pills where you can see them or make use of a pillbox with daily compartments for am and pm.  Fill the box for the week and refill on a weekly basis.   

  If you forget to take a dosage – refer to the package insert for directions or call your doctor or pharmacist.

  Failing to recognize side effects is not unusual.  Any changes or symptoms that occur after starting a new medication should be brought to your doctor’s attention.  The risk of side effects also increases when prescribed drugs are used in addition to herbs, dietary supplements and other over-the-counter drugs.

  If you health requires you to see more than one doctor or specialist each one should be aware of all the medications and other supplements you are taking.

  There are two other situations that could cause errors.  If you are admitted to the hospital each time a nurse administers a drug you should ask to have the name of the drug and the exact dosage prescribed double checked to insure that the drug and dosage is correct.

  Last but not least – keeping drugs you are no longer taking or drugs that have passed their expiration date should be disposed of so that they are not taken in error.



  FRIDAY – May 4 – 5:00 pm – Cinco de Mayo Fiesta – enjoy dinner, live music and dancing – at Goebel Adult Community Center, 1385 E. Janss Road in Thousand Oaks.  Tickets are $9 and available at Goebel’s front desk.

  WEDNESDAY – May 9 – 1:00 to 3:00 pm – Ventura Parkinson’s Disease Support Group will be host to The Michael J. Fox Foundation – at the Lexington Assisted Living, 5440 Ralston Street in Ventura.  For more information call Patty at (805) 766-6070.

  THURSDAY – May 10 – Seminar – Path to Positive Aging Series – “Now I Am Wise” – at Agoura Hills Recreation & Event Center, 29900 Ladyface Court in Agoura Hills.  For reservations call (818) 597-7361.

  SATURDAY – May 12 – 10:00 am – Mother’s Day Tea Party – at Goebel Adult Community Center, 1385 E. Janss Road, Thousand Oaks.  Tickets are $5.00 and available at Goebel’s front desk.

  WEDNESDAY – May 23 – 1:00 to 5:00 pm – AARP Smart Driver Refresher Course – at Pleasant Valley Senior Center, 1605 Burnley Street in Camarillo.  Reservations required by May 18.  The cost is $15 for AARP members and $20 for non-members.  For more information call (805) 482-4881.


  Betty Berry is a senior advocate for Senior Concerns.  The advocates are located at the Goebel Adult Community Center, 1385 E. Janss Road, Thousand Oaks, CA 91362 or call (805) 495-6250 or e-mail (please include your telephone number.)  You are invited to submit questions on senior issues.

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