Older adults are at greater risk for drug interactions
Because many older adults take multiple medications to manage various health conditions, their medication routine can be a balancing act.
Studies show that 87% of seniors take one prescription drug, 36% take 5 or more, and 38% use over-the-counter medications. Many drugs will interact with each other, food, or supplements. Even if the interaction isn’t fatal, it can affect how well the medication will work or if your senior will experience side effects.
Doctors can sometimes miss critical interactions if they don’t review your older adult’s complete list of medicine, supplements, and certain foods. That’s why it’s best to double-check on your own.
Check medication interactions at Drugs.com
We like using the Drugs.com drug interactions checker. It’s free, trustworthy, easy-to-use, and includes many vitamins and supplements as well as prescription drugs.
The online tool clearly alerts you to drug interactions in your medication list and how dangerous they are — from minor to serious. Common foods with known interactions, like grapefruit, are also included.
As an example, we used a list of medications commonly used by older adults to check for drug and food interactions. The results shown in the report (below) warn us that Norco and alcohol are dangerous together, too much vitamin K from food is also dangerous, and that it’s important to speak with the doctor about:
- Taking multivitamins while taking Coumadin.
- If there are any issues with taking both Norco and Coumadin.
- How to make sure potassium intake from food or supplements won’t cause problems.
Enter medications, one at a time, to build a list
Sample list of medications and their drug and food interactions
Discuss all medications with doctors
When seeing the doctor, ask them to review your senior’s complete list of medications, vitamins, and supplements — especially if they see multiple doctors.
However, some doctors aren’t able or willing to do a thorough and detailed review that includes timing and foods. Certain medications need to be taken hours apart for safety or effectiveness and some supplements and foods may interact with medications.
That’s why it’s wise to do some homework on your own. By entering everything your older adult takes into this simple online drug interactions checker, you can see if there are any interactions, food, or timing issues. After you get the report, you can show it to your senior’s doctor and ask how to make their medication regimen safer.
Important: Never stop, start, or make any changes to their medications without speaking with the doctor.
Double-check to avoid mistakes in the hospital
If your older adult is in the hospital or other health facility, medical staff will probably give them new medications on top of existing ones. Sometimes hospitals get so busy that mistakes happen.
To avoid problems, get a list of new and existing medications so you can double-check everything using the drug interactions checker. The last thing your senior needs is more health issues caused by a medication error!
The Drugs.com drugs interaction checker is very helpful when checking for drug interactions. But please remember that using this website isn’t a substitute for discussing your older adult’s medication list with their doctor.
If you have questions or concerns about medication, always talk with a doctor, nurse, or other qualified medical professional.
You might also like:
— Medications Seniors Should Avoid: The Beers List
— 7 Tips for Helping Seniors at the Doctor’s: Being a Health Advocate
— 5 Questions to Ask Your Elderly Parent’s Doctor About Tests or Treatments [Infographic]
By DailyCaring Editorial Staff