As a caregiver of an older adult, it is often up to you to manage multiple medicines, get test results, and drive to doctor appointments. People ages 60 and older use more prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medicines than any other age group in the United States, and as a caregiver of an older adult, you are likely responsible for administering medicines to your loved one.
it’s important to know about the safe and appropriate use of OTC medicines.
Because of that, it’s important to know about the safe and appropriate use of OTC medicines. When given as directed, OTC medicines help treat symptoms, but like all medicines, they have risks if misused. There is a lot you can do, however, to ensure that medications are used safely and effectively. Below are some general tips to consider when giving OTC medicines to a loved one:
- Always read and follow medicine labels exactly to ensure safe and appropriate dosing.
- Always give the recommended dose and use the correct measuring device. Never use longer than the label instructs or at higher doses, unless their doctor specifically tells you to do so.
- Only use the medicine that treats their specific symptoms.
- Never take two medicines with any of the same active ingredients unless specifically told to do so by a doctor.
- Stop use and contact their doctor immediately if they develop any side effects or reactions that concern you.
- Keep a medication record. Having an organized chart of their medications will make medication management easier, and will help ensure that they’re taking all medications as directed. Be sure to bring the chart to all medical appointments so you can share it with their doctor. Also bring it with you when you go to the pharmacy and ask the pharmacist to review it before picking up a new medication.
- Consult a doctor, pharmacist, or other healthcare provider with any questions
In order to get the most benefits and to reduce potential risks, it is vital that medications are used as directed. There is never guesswork about correct dosing with OTC medicines because every OTC medication has dosing instructions right on its label. The OTC label, known as the Drug Facts label, has specific instructions for safe use and should be followed precisely. Approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the directions tell you what amount of medicine to take, how to take it, when to take it, and when not to take it. If a label does not list dosing amounts for the person taking the medicine, call a doctor for advice on the best treatment options.
For additional information about over-the-counter medications for seniors, visit OTCsafety.org.
Thank you, OTCSafety.org, for contributing this article on medicine safety for Seniors for TheCaregiver’sVoice.com readers.