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You visit your parents one day and open the medicine cabinet to find an array of medication bottles, including one without a label that’s full of pills of different shapes and colours. That’s when you realize it’s time to team up with your parent’s pharmacist to avoid a serious incident and to ensure they’re getting the full benefits of their treatment.
Start by asking the pharmacist for an up-to-date list of the medications your parents are taking. Take the time to review it with the pharmacist so you understand the purpose of each medication and how it should be taken.
Due to confidentiality, the pharmacist will require your parent’s authorization before sharing this information with you.
Gather all your parents’ medications together, then compare them with the list you got from the pharmacist. Set aside any that are not on the list. Also, check if any medications come from another pharmacy.
If there are several bottles of the same medication, do not put them all into one bottle. Check the date on the pharmacy label and only keep the most recent.
Do the same for all forms of medication (e.g., creams, syrups, drops, and inhalers), not just pills.
Check the expiration dates of over-the-counter medications, natural health products, and others (e.g., first aid or personal hygiene products) and set aside any that are expired or that your parent no longer use.
Now, make a list of all the products your parent use—regularly or from time to time—and give it to the pharmacist, especially if you found medication from multiple pharmacies. He or she will check that they are compatible with your parent’s prescription medications and will advise you whether it is prudent or worthwhile hanging on to them even if they are not expired.
Bring back any expired or unused products to the pharmacy, where they will be safely disposed. Do not discard them in the toilet or with household garbage.
Ask your parents whether they take their medication as recommended, and make sure they aren’t forgetting some or adjusting their dosage themselves.
Ask them whether the medication is causing any adverse side effects or whether they have difficulty swallowing them, opening the packaging, or handling devices, such as eye droppers, insulin pens, etc.
Discuss any problems with the pharmacist
If you notice or suspect any problems, talk to the pharmacist. They will recommend solutions. They may also offer to meet with your parents, depending on the type or severity of the problem(s).
Pharmacies offer a range of services to help elderly people manage their medications from home, including large fonts for labels, pill dispensers, medication synchronization, and delivery. Ask the pharmacist for more information on convenient homecare services.
The information contained herein is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide complete information on the subject matter or to replace the advice of a health professional. This information does not constitute medical consultation, diagnosis or opinion and should not be interpreted as such. Please consult your health care provider if you have any questions about your health, medications or treatment.