Getting the Facts About Your Medications 

Published 10:40 pm Thursday, February 28, 2019

If you’re a boomer or senior, the odds are very high that you take some form of prescription medication.  In fact the average number of prescription medications take by people over 65 is five and in many cases for people over 75 that number can range from 9 to as many as 13. 


Our bodies change, our metabolisms may slow, and medicines you’ve been taking, possibly for years, may need to have dosages adjusted. They must also be checked for negative side effects if taken with some of your other new medications, including supplements and many over the counter products like sleeping aids or pills for indigestion. 

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In an effort to avoid “sticker shock” from the costs, unintended consequences or risky side effects, it may be a very good idea to ask your doctor or pharmacist some questions about your prescriptions from the following list for both your existing and newly prescribed medications. 


  1. Why are you prescribing this medication? 
  1. Will it replace any of the medications I’m currently taking? 
  1. How much does it cost and what’s the co-pay for this medication? 
  1. How is this medication going to help me? 
  1. How long will I have to take this medication? 
  1. Are there refills, and if so how many? Should I refill this prescription?  
  1. Are there any special directions for using the medication? 
  1. What should I do if I run out and there are no refills? 
  1. What should I do if I forget to take the medication or I use too much? 
  1. What are both the common and possible side effects? 
  1. What should I do if I have any side effects or have an allergic reaction to the medicine? 
  1. Does this medication need to be refrigerated? 
  1. Why are you changing my medication to a newer more costly drug? 
  1. Can’t I stay with the current lower cost medicine that has been working well for me? 


Our lives are complicated enough in today’s world, and with so many new drugs being introduced and pushed on television. There are a lot of reasons to take charge and responsibility for your health, treatment and the drugs being prescribed to be sure that neither the doctor nor the pharmacy inadvertently causes you problems. 


My suggestion is that at least once a year, perhaps when you go to your doctor for your annual physical, that you bring with you all your supplements and prescribed medicines and have them reviewed to be sure you’re not creating problems for yourself. 


You can also take a list of all your medications to your pharmacy and ask them if they know of any warnings or contra-indications you should be aware of when taking the various medicines that you have been prescribed. 


As you’re well aware, our health care system is under severe pressure, and many doctors simply don’t have, can’t or won’t take the time to be absolutely certain that medicines they or others have prescribed for you aren’t actually endangering your health. More than ever, you have to be an active participant in your own health care. 


Ron Kauffman is a Consultant & Expert Speaker on Issues of Aging. He may be contacted at  

(828) 696-9799 or by email at: