You’ve just left the doctor’s office with Mom. The doctor is sending over a new prescription to the drug store which should be ready once you get there. You plan to zip through the drive-through window, grab the medication, and take Mom to lunch. However, you are missing an important step.
Whenever a new medication is ordered for a loved one, whether for an existing condition or a new one, it’s always recommended to speak with the pharmacist. Our care team provides the following information to help you determine what you need to know about a new medication.
Ask the Pharmacist: What You Need to Know About a New Medication
- How and when should the medication be taken? This is especially important to learn. Some medications have to be taken with a full glass of water; others, with food, or on an empty stomach. The time of day could also be a factor. Sometimes, a pill is prescribed to be taken whole; in other cases, it may be cut in half or crushed and mixed with food to disguise the taste. Or it may be available in a liquid form that could be easier for the older adult to take.
- What are the risks vs. benefits of taking this medication? You’ll want to find out the possible side effects for which to monitor, and if observed, report them immediately to the person’s prescribing doctor. It is equally important to understand if there are any long-term issues associated with the medication, as well as the benefits to be gained.
- Does the medication need to be taken long-term? Determine if the medication is supposed to treat an acute health issue in a short period of time, or if it needs to be taken ongoing for a chronic illness. The pharmacist can counsel you on which category the medication falls in.
- What is the cost, and will insurance cover it? If the full cost isn’t covered by Medicare or a private insurance policy, find out if the medicine comes in a less expensive generic form. The pharmacist provide advice on the effectiveness of a generic version.
- How long is it going to take the medication to start working? You’ll want to learn whether the senior will notice the effects immediately, or if the treatment needs to build up over time before it starts to have an impact. Knowing the expectations will prevent a call to the physician to report that it’s not working, or even worse, simply stopping the medication altogether.
Think through any other specific questions you might want to ask the pharmacist, and come ready with a list in hand. Advocating for a senior family member in this manner can prevent complications and ensure the person is getting the most from their medicines.
Grace Home Care’s care professionals are also here to help. We can pick up prescriptions and make certain that any and all questions are answered. We also provide friendly companionship and are on hand to monitor for any changes in condition or troubling side effects from a new medication. And, we can provide medication reminders to ensure medications are taken precisely as instructed.