Medication Safety for Seniors

Prescription drug precautions for elderly patients

As we age, we are more likely to develop one or more chronic illnesses that require prescription medications to help us remain healthy and live longer, more active lives. However, prescription drugs can cause seniors a lot of money and health risks.

According to the research, the typical U.S senior is prescribed three prescription drugs, on average, per year. That’s why millions of American seniors are looking to Canada and Europe in an effort to find lower prices. But even if you purchase online generic Canadian drugs, administering medication to elderly patients also has risks, including:

  • Multiple medications prescribed to one patient can pose a risk of drug interactions, mix-ups, the risk of overdose, and negative side effects
  • Aging bodies process and respond to prescription medicines differently than younger bodies—especially vital organs such as the liver, kidneys and central nervous system
  • Memory loss or poor eyesight can cause elderly patients to forget to fill their prescriptions, take medications, take a wrong drug, a wrong dose or follow the instructions improperly

The following drug safety precautions will help seniors and caregivers reduce health risks for elderly patients taking prescription medications:

  1. Review all prescriptions with your doctor – Ensure you understand exactly what the medication is, what it treats and how often you need to take it. We also advise that you ask your doctor the following questions associated with any new medication:
  • What is the name of the medication?
  • What am I taking it for?
  • Are there any side effects?
  • How long do I need to take this medication?
  • Does this medicine need to be taken with food or on an empty stomach? Should any foods or other drugs be avoided?


  1. Try to use the same pharmacy for filling all of your prescriptions. We advise that you ask the pharmacist the following questions associated with any new medication:
  • Will this medication interact with any other drug I’m currently taking?
  • Can you review the prescribing information with me or my caregiver?
  • Can you provide an easy-opening cap for this prescription?
  • Can you provide a label in large print?


  1. Keep a recorded list of your medications and supplements on hand—including both prescription and over-the-counter drugs—including medication name, manufacturer, dosage, and time of day you take the drug, for quick reference in any medical emergency.


  1. Put all medications in a visible area so that you remember to take them—you can use a pill holder or pill minder, use a timer or a calendar where you check off the reminder after taking each dosage.  You should also put medications in a central location where you will be sure to see them. For instance, if you are required to take your medication with food, place your prescriptions on the kitchen table or counter.


  1. Create a routine around taking your medications—for example, take medicine at the same time each day, such as before a meal, after a meal or when you brush your teeth.


  1. Remember to refill your prescriptions before you run out – Keep your pill containers in view so that you know when to refill in plenty of time before you run out. Keep any empty bottles until you receive your new refill and then mark the next refill date on your calendar so that you don’t forget to refill it next time.



3 responses to “Medication Safety for Seniors

  1. Working as a caregiver I’ve seen many of elderly patients who have no idea what there medications are actually for or when they should be taken.

  2. Louis Penderghast

    I do use the same pharmacy to fill out my prescriptions. I have for over 35 years, but you give a lot of other tips that are not only great for seniors but anyone taking medications.

  3. Great tips. I’m going to pass them along to my granddad since he is on a lot of different medications.

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