Aging Well: Managing medications
As people age, it's not uncommon to need to take more and more medications to stay healthy.
KAILUA, Hawaii - As people age, it's not uncommon to need to take more and more medications to stay healthy. But the more pills you take, the harder it can be to keep track.
Kailua resident Bart Aronoff is refilling his daily medication dispenser. He takes 22 pills a day.
"I have containers for the evening and morning. I have three sets of one week's worth," he describes.
The 72-year-old has been doing this for several years, and a routine helps him remember. He also regularly checks his refills online to make sure he doesn't run out.
"After three weeks, I go to the computer to see what is available for refill, and fill the order right away," he explains.
Arnoff is doing just what pharmacists recommend. He's taking all his pills, on time, and uses tools to help him manage his schedule. Here's what else pharmacists advise.
Kaiser Permanente Hawaii pharmacist Shelley Kikuchi, Pharm.D, says, "It's a great idea to communicate to your doctor and pharmacist about your active medications." That ensures there aren't drug interactions.
Also, when you turn 65, remind your doctor to review your medication chart. "As we grow older the body changes. For example, your liver might not metabolize the medications as quickly, or the kidneys might not clear the medications," Dr. Kikuchi notes.
Dr. Kikuchi urges people not to share pills. She said she sees a lot of this: "'My son is also taking his for his high blood pressure and we're on a trip to Vegas and he forgot his medications - maybe he can just take mine?'"
Dr. Kikuchi also asks seniors to be careful about medications that make them dizzy or drowsy, because "we want to decrease the risk of patients falling down."
Another important piece of advice: Don't stop your medications without first asking your doctor.
Dr. Kikuchi also suggests you keep a list of all the pills you take, including your over-the-counter drugs, herbs, vitamins, and supplements. If you go to a new doctor or pharmacy, give them the list to make sure they can screen for drug interactions.