Medication Safety for Older Adults
Oakland County, MichiganHealthInformationMedication Safety for Older Adults

Medication Safety for Older Adults

An open and honest relationship with your doctor and pharmacist can help ensure you use medications safely and as effectively as possible.

What can happen if medications are not taken as prescribed by your doctor?

If medication is not taken as prescribed, it may not work as intended. As a result, your condition may not improve or it could worsen. Medication overdoses or various medicines interacting with each other can cause harm or accidental death.

How can you prevent misuse of medications?

  • Take medications as prescribed by your healthcare provider (do not skip doses, double up on doses, and start and stop medications on your own).
  • Communication ask questions to increase your knowledge; talk to your healthcare provider and pharmacist; and keep an updated medication list.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider about any known food or medication allergies you may have and give them your current medication list (include all prescriptions, over-the-counter, herbs, vitamins, and supplements).
  • Use one pharmacy for all your medications.
  • Have your medication list reviewed at least once per year by your doctor. Make sure all of your doctors have a copy of your updated medication list.
  • Know your medications names, where to store it, when to take it, how to take it, how much to take and what you expect (side effects and how to tell if it's working)
  • Read labels or special instructions on medication. Look for pictures or statements that will provide important information about taking the medication safely and effectively.
  • Write down side effects and tell your doctor about any symptoms.
  • Do not share medications with others (do not give your medications to others or take someone else's medication).
  • Use a pill box to organize medications. This will ensure medications are being taken safely and effectively.
  • Clean out your medicine cabinet at least once per year and properly dispose of any expired, unused or unneeded medications. See next page for more information.

What are signs of a possible medication-related problem?

Talk to your healthcare provider if you are experiencing anything that is not normal for you. Other examples include:

  • Memory trouble
  • Loss of coordination
  • Change in sleeping or eating habits
  • Unexplained chronic pain
  • Unexplained bruising
  • Irritability, sadness or depression
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Lack of interest in usual activities

How do I properly dispose of expired, unused or un-needed medications?

  • Oakland County has an ongoing prescription drug take-back program, Operation Medicine Cabinet™ (OMC).
  • Currently there are 32 disposal sites throughout Oakland County.
  • Citizens can properly dispose of expired or unused prescription medications at any of the 32 sites throughout Oakland County anonymously no questions asked.
  • Visit Oakland County Sheriff's Office to locate a take-back program near you.

Resources:

Alcohol and Drug Abuse

  • Alcoholics Anonymous: 248-332-3521
  • Alanon: 248-706-1020
  • Narcotics Anonymous:  248-543-7200