You have just left the physician’s office with Mom. She is sending over a new prescription to the drug store that should be ready by the time you get there. Your plan is to zip through the drive-through window, pick up the medication, and take Mom to lunch. But is there a step you’re missing?
Any time a new prescription is ordered for an older loved one, whether for an existing condition or a new one, it’s always recommended to know what to ask your pharmacist about the medicine.
What Should You Ask a Pharmacist When Getting a New Medication?
- Does the medication need to be taken long-term? Find out whether the medication is intended to treat an acute health condition in a short span of time, or if it has to be taken ongoing for a chronic illness. The pharmacist can advise you on which category the medication falls in.
- How and when should the medicine be taken? This is particularly important to find out. Some prescription drugs have to be taken with a full glass of water; others, with food, or on an empty stomach. The time of day can also be a factor. At times, a pill needs to be taken whole; in other cases, it may be cut in half or crushed and mixed with applesauce or yogurt to cover the taste. Or it may possibly be available in a liquid form that may be easier for the older adult to take.
- What are the risks vs. benefits of taking this medication? You will want to know the potential side effects to watch for, and if seen, report them immediately to the person’s prescribing physician. It’s also essential to learn if there are any long-term risks from the medication, along with the benefits to be gained.
- How long will it take the medicine to start to be effective? Find out whether the person will notice the effects instantly, or if the treatment needs to build up with time before it starts to have an impact. Knowing the expectations will prevent a call to the doctor to report that it is not effective, or worse, simply stopping the medication entirely.
- What is the cost, and will insurance cover it? If the full cost is not covered by Medicare or a personal insurance policy, determine if the prescription is offered in a less costly generic type. The pharmacist can advise you on the effectiveness of a generic type.
Think through any other specific questions you may want to ask the pharmacist, and come prepared with a list at hand. Advocating for a loved one in this way can prevent complications and ensure the older adult is getting the most out of their medicines.
Compassionate Nursing Services’ care experts are also here to help. Our caregivers can pick up prescriptions and ensure that any and all questions are answered. We also provide companionship and are readily available to monitor for any changes in condition or troubling side effects from a new medication. Additionally, we can provide medication reminders so that medications are taken just as instructed.