You’ve just left the physician’s office with Mom. The doctor is sending over a brand new prescription to the drug store which should be ready when you get there. Your plan is to zip through the drive-through window, get the meds, and take Mom to lunch. However, you are missing an important step.
Any time you’re picking up a new prescription for an older loved one, whether for a preexisting condition or a new one, it is always a wise idea to speak to the pharmacist to get the answers to a few critical questions.
What Should You Ask a Pharmacist About When Getting a New Medication?
- What are the risks vs. benefits of taking this medication? You will want to find out the possible side effects to watch for, and if seen, report them immediately to the person’s prescribing physician. It’s also important to know if there are any long-term risks from the medication, as well as the benefits to be gained.
- How much does it cost, and will it be covered by insurance? If the full cost isn’t covered by Medicare or a personal insurance plan, find out if the medication comes in a less costly generic form. The pharmacist can provide advice on the effectiveness of a generic version.
- How and when should the medication be taken? This is particularly important to learn. Some medications must be taken with a full glass of water; others, with food, or on an empty stomach. The time of day is sometimes a factor. Sometimes, a pill needs to be taken whole; in other cases, it can be cut in half or crushed and mixed with applesauce or yogurt to conceal the taste. Or it may be available in a liquid form that could possibly be easier for the older adult to take.
- How long will it take the medication to start to be effective? Find out if the individual will notice the effects immediately, or if the treatment needs to build up over time before it starts to make a difference. Knowing the expectations will prevent a call to the doctor to report that it is not effective, or more importantly, simply stopping the medication entirely.
- Does the medicine have to be taken long-term? Find out whether the medication is intended to treat an acute health condition in a short span of time, or if it needs to be taken ongoing for a chronic condition. The pharmacist can counsel you on which category the medication falls in.
Consider any other specific questions you may want to ask the pharmacist, and come ready with a list in hand. Advocating for a loved one in this manner may prevent complications and ensure the person is getting the most from their medications.
Abby Senior Care is also here to help. Our senior care professionals can pick up prescriptions and be sure that any and all questions are answered. We also provide companionship and are readily available to monitor for any changes in condition or unwanted side effects from a new medication. Additionally, we can provide medication reminders to make sure that prescriptions are taken exactly as directed.