MUST - A National Education Campaign for Older Adults and Caregivers
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Caregiver Corner > How to Help Older Adults Use Medicine Safely and Effectively

Use this guide as a starting place for helping an older adult use his or her medicine safely and effectively.

  1. Know what medicines are being taken.
  2. Start and maintain a medicine list with the name of each medicine and other important details.
  3. If possible, go to medical appointments with the person in your care and ask permission to speak to the healthcare professional with the older adult present.
  4. Ask if he or she is having trouble or is concerned about managing his or her medicines.
  5. Encourage the older adult to share any concerns or questions with his or her healthcare professional. Take notes on what the doctor says.
  6. Read and review all medicine labels with the person in your care. Don’t assume the medicine is always the same.
  7. Ask if he or she can read, understand, and follow instructions.
  8. Ask if he or she needs help with developing a medicine schedule.
  9. Check to see if drug interactions are possible between any of the medicines the patient is taking, if more than one medicine is used.
  10. Ask the older adult to show you how he or she takes his or her medicine. Try to determine if any intervention or instruction is needed to change a pattern that isn’t safe or accurate.

Learn more here:

  • Senior Care Pharmacists: Helping You Make the Best Use of Your Medicines
  • The National Institutes of Health “Senior Health” Website
  • U.S. Administration on Aging
  • Men Stay Healthy at 50+ (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality)
  • Women: Stay Healthy at 50+ (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality)
  • Helping Your Independent Older Parents Use Medicines Safely