You’ve just left the doctor’s office with Mom. He is sending an order for a new medication to the pharmacy which should be ready when you get there. Your plan is to zip through the drive-through window, get the meds, and take Mom out to lunch. However, you are missing an important step.
Whenever a new senior medication is ordered for a loved one, whether for a preexisting condition or a brand new one, it’s always a good idea to talk to the pharmacist to find out the answers to several key questions.
What Should You Ask a Pharmacist When Getting a New Medication?
- What are the risks vs. benefits of taking this medication? You will want to learn the potential side effects to watch for, and if seen, report them immediately to the person’s prescribing doctor. It’s also essential to know if there are any long-term issues linked to the medication, as well as the benefits to be gained.
- How and when should the prescription 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 is also often a factor. Sometimes, a pill has to be taken whole; other times, it could be cut in half or crushed and mixed with yogurt or applesauce to disguise the taste. Or it might be available in a liquid form that could be easier for the older adult to take.
- How long is it going to take the medication to begin to be effective? Find out if the individual will notice the effects right away, or if the medication needs to build up with time before it begins to make a difference. Learning the expectations will prevent a call to the physician to report that it’s not effective, or more importantly, simply stopping the medication entirely.
- What is the cost, and will insurance cover it? If the full cost is not covered by Medicare or an individual insurance policy, find out if the medication is offered in a less costly generic form. The pharmacist can advise you on the effectiveness of a generic version.
- Does the medication need to be taken long-term? Find out if the medication is intended to treat an acute health problem in a short span of time, or if it has to be taken ongoing for a chronic illness. The pharmacist can advise you on which category the medication falls in.
Think through any other specific questions you may want to ask the pharmacist, and come equipped with a list at hand. Advocating for a senior family member in this manner may prevent complications and ensure the person is getting the most from their prescription drugs.
Absolute Companion Care’s care professionals are also here to help. Our care team can pick up prescriptions and ensure that any and all questions are answered. We also serve as companions who will be on hand to monitor for any changes in condition or unwanted side effects from a new senior medication. Additionally, we can provide medication reminders to make sure that prescriptions are taken exactly as directed.