Fact Sheet - Medication Management
Not using prescription medications properly means patients are not getting the health benefits they should. Improperly taken medications can be ineffective or dangerous. Clear communication with your physician about medication is important. Taking ownership for your own medication is also important.

Questions to ask your physician or health care provider:

  • What is the name of the medication?
  • Why do you need to take this medication?
  • How should you take the medication?
  • What are the side effects of the medication?
  • What do you do when they run out of the medication?
  • Where do you keep the medication?
  • What do you do with the medication you no longer need?
  • Who should you talk to about your medication? Doctor/Pharmacist/Nurse? Have names and phone numbers.

What you should tell your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist

  • About all medications; prescription/over-the-counter/vitamins/herbal medicines

  • If you smoke, drink alcohol

  • Allergies to food or medications

  • If you see other health care providers

  • Ask your doctor about the things you can do to get better without using medicine

  • Try to use the same pharmacy, so your pharmacist can keep a record of all your medications and give you the best advice



Tips to help you keep track of your medications

Sometimes taking more than one medication at a time can be confusing and can cause problems.

  • Take it at the same time as you do something else, or at the same time everyday

  • Keep a written record of all your medications

  • Use a plastic container with separate compartments for each day, and for each time of the day (may be available at a local pharmacy). If you are not comfortable filling your container, ask a family member or friend or nurse to do this with you. This gives you the greatest control possible. Make sure however, that changing containers will not affect the medication?s composition

  • Medication Record can be used to keep track of medications. This record is a handy tool to take to a doctor?s appointment, or to speak with the pharmacist, etc.



Medications, alcohol, and food

  • Some medication interact dangerously with alcohol or certain foods

  • Drinking with medications may make you feel; drowsy, confused, dizzy, sick to your?? stomach, headachy.

  • Alcohol may also be present in cold and cough medicines, mouthwashes, etc.

  • Medication labels usually indicate when the medication should be taken, before, or after a meal, etc. However, for seniors with low literacy skills, or who may have trouble reading small print, it is important to obtain the following information verbally:

  1. Before or after the meal?

  2. How long before or after food should it be taken?

  3. Can it be taken with anything else but water?

  4. If the medication is affected by food, it is important to get a list of the specific foods


Selected resources:

American Heart Association, National Center

7272 Greenville Avenue, Dallas, TX 75231
Phone: 1-800-242-872-100.??????????????? 

Health Canada, Division of Aging and Seniors

Adress locator: 1908A1

Ottawa, ON

K1A 1B4

Tel: 613 952 7606

E-mail: seniors@hc-sc.gc.ca

How you can help seniors use medication safely

Tool for educators by Health Canada at:


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