Are you taking your medicines safely?

In general, the older we get, the more health concerns we have, the more doctors we see, and the more medicines we need. Most adults 65 years and older regularly take at least five different medicines, and most older adults taking prescription medicines are also using over-the-counter medicines, dietary supplements, or both.

We take all of these medicines to stay healthy. But more medicines can mean more potential risks and mistakes. Did you know that medicine mishaps like interactions and side effects cause over 700,000 emergency room visits yearly? Because as we age we typically take more medicines, older adults are twice as likely as others to visit the emergency room for problems with their medicines, and nearly seven times more likely to be hospitalized after an emergency visit!

Here are 5 reminders to help prevent harmful medicine mishaps:

  1. PARTICIPATE -  It’s your health. Make a point of discussing ALL your medicines with your doctors and anyone who helps you with your medical care. If you have questions about your medication like how much to take or why you’re taking it, do not guess!
  2. UP, AWAY & OUT OF SIGHT - To reduce the chance that someone gets into your medicine, keep your medicines up, away, and out of sight of children & teens, adult visitors, and pets. To avoid mishaps, safely dispose of unwanted or expired medicine.
  3. READ & FOLLOW ENTIRE LABEL - Always read and follow the entire medicine label, including on over-the-counter medicines. Make sure you know how much medicine to take, how often to take it, and whether there are certain foods, beverages, or other medicines you should avoid while taking your medicine.
  4. KNOW WHO TO CALL - Be prepared by knowing who to call. Save the Poison Help number in your phone and display it somewhere visible in your house, like on the refrigerator or close to your landline telephone or computer. The number is 1-800-222-1222. Also, keep numbers for all of your doctors and your pharmacy in one place, preferably on an up-to-date list of all of the medicines that you take.
  5. WRITE IT DOWN -  Keep an up-to-date list of all of the medicines that you are taking – including prescription medicine, over-the-counter medicine, and vitamins or supplements – bring the list with you whenever you go to a healthcare professional or drugstore. This is especially important if you take a lot of different medicines.

Need Assistance?

In case of a poison emergency, call the 24/7 hotline at 1-800-222-1222 for fast, free, and professional help. The Palmetto Poison Center is a non-profit organization dedicated to the prevention of poisonings and providing clinical advice to the general public and the healthcare community. They serve all 46 counties of South Carolina, providing information and advice completely free of charge. The PPC is staffed by nurses and pharmacists who are formally trained in toxicology and are specialists in providing poison information. They are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Calls range from accidental and intentional ingestion of poisonous substances to adverse drug reactions, snake and spider bites, and occupational or biochemical exposures.

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