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How Can I Take My Medications Safely



Senior Citizen Alerts

Combating the Rise of ‘Polypharmacy’ – Tips for Seniors on Risk of Many Medications

Each year, about one-third of seniors experience serious adverse effects as a result of drug interactions, says CVS executive pharmacist

By Papatya Tankut, vice president, CVS/Pharmacy

Papatya Tankut, vice president, professional pharmacy services, CVS

May 9, 2012 - If you’re over the age of 60, chances are you’re taking multiple medications. In the last 10 years, the percentage of people over 60 who take five or more medications has jumped from 22 percent to 37 percent. Right now, there are more than 30 million Americans taking five or more prescription drugs regularly, often called “polypharmacy.”

Each year, about one-third of seniors experience serious adverse effects as a result of drug interactions from this growing issue. It’s necessary to be cognizant of the health risks and dangers this issue can pose on your longer, more active lifestyle.

CVS pharmacists work hard every day to help combat the dangers of polypharmacy and optimize seniors’ pharmacy experience. There are a number of measures you can take to avoid the health risks associated with this growing issue.

Here are my tips for adhering to your medication regimen while preventing polypharmacy hazards.


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    Develop a relationship with your pharmacist

Developing a relationship with your pharmacist can help you better manage your medications and prevent potential and harmful drug interactions. Your relationship is more effective if your medications are at one “pharmacy home.”

This will allow your pharmacist to be aware of all your medications and be mindful of potential drugs interactions as they make appropriate recommendations and adjustments. Your pharmacist can even help you save money by identifying generic versions of your medications that are just as safe and effective, but cost less.

    Avoid common adherence mistakes

Medication adherence is a growing concern across the U.S. as more Americans neglect to fill prescriptions and take medications as directed. These mistakes will decrease the effectiveness of your medication and may lead to the persistence of problems.

Be sure to refill accordingly, take your medication as directed and complete the regimen for effective results. Remember to consult your local pharmacist if you have any medication-specific questions.

    Consult before supplementing

Are you vitamin D deficient? Do you need more zinc in your diet? Pharmacists can offer advice on these issues as well as tips for maintaining your overall health and well-being. Inform your pharmacist of these issues and discuss ways you are both comfortable with supplementing your medication regimen. Be sure to consult before adding any vitamins or supplements to effectively avoid interactions.

    Communicate concerns

If you are unsure about a certain medication or are experiencing a side effect, it’s important to voice these concerns to your pharmacist or a trained health expert. The fix may be as simple as shifting your medication dosage or even taking your medication with food instead of on an empty stomach.

Every person is unique and may react differently to new medications or lifestyle changes. Have a conversation with an expert to be sure you have the healthiest routine possible.

>> Papatya Tankut is vice president, professional pharmacy services at CVS/pharmacy.

>> Go to CVS Drug Information Center for more information

>> More CVS videos on health


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