Tips on Managing Medicines for Older Adults

Keeping a detailed record of all your medicines is one way to ensure you take them safely and effectively.


prescription bottle

The number of prescription drugs, vitamins, and over-the-counter medications we take to stay healthy only seems to increase as we age. To avoid problems such as drug interactions or overmedication, it’s important to manage them efficiently.

Make a medicine record
The Administration on Aging recommends making a detailed record of all the medicines you take, either in a notebook or on your computer. Be sure to list all vitamins, supplements, and over-the-counter remedies such as pain relievers and antacids. Include:

  • The name of the medicine
  • What it’s for
  • The name of the prescribing doctor
  • The dosage
  • How and when to take it (e.g., with food, every two hours)
  • The color and shape of the medicine (e.g., small red pill)
  • Any known side effects or warnings

Update the record as your medications change, and show it to your physician to ask questions such as:

  • Do any of these drugs interact with each other?
  • Does any medicine duplicate another prescription I’m taking?
  • Can I substitute a generic prescription or non-drug alternative for any medication?
  • What should I do if I miss a dose?

Safe storage and disposal
Never take any medication past its expiration date, or if it has changed color, texture, or odor. Throw out any capsules or tablets that are cracked or chipped, stick together, or are harder or softer than normal. Always store medication in a cool, dry place out of children’s reach, such as a kitchen counter or hall closet, and not in the bathroom. The heat and moisture can reduce potency.

For additional answers to your medication questions, such as how to dispose of medicines you no longer take, St. Petersburg General Hospital offers a free class, “Older Adults and Medicines — Ask a Pharmacist,” on Tuesday, May 14, at 6pm. Please call 1-888-741-5122 or click here to register.

Related Posts:
Healthy Living Tips for Diabetics and Their Caregivers
Aspirin Therapy for Your Heart

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