It's no secret that our bodies change as we grow older. What you may not know is that those changes can affect how we respond to medications. Plus, with more health conditions to manage, older adults take more medications. That means that older adults are at greater risk for overdoses, interactions and other complications. Take this quiz for a dose of medication education.
True or false: Aging organs can raise your risk for medication problems.
True. For example, changes in your digestive system can affect how quickly or slowly medicines get into your bloodstream. Your kidneys and liver may not work as efficiently as they did when you were younger, which can affect how well your body processes medications.
True or false: Your weight can affect how a medication works for you.
True. As you age, your body shape may change. Depending on your weight, a medication might stay in your body longer than usual, which can affect how much you need to take. Taking your meds exactly as prescribed is important.
True or false: It's OK to stop taking a medication if you're feeling better.
False. Don't quit a medication unless your doctor tells you to do so. And don't skip doses or make any other changes without checking with your doctor, either. It's possible you're feeling better because the medication is working.
True or false: You should make a list of all your medications and keep it with you at all times.
True. Write down the name of each medicine, the dosage (for example, 50 mg), how often you take it and at what time you take it. Be sure to include medicines and supplements you buy without a prescription. Update your list every time you start or stop taking a drug.
True or false: You can assume that every doctor you see knows what medicines you're on.
False. Tell each of your healthcare providers about the medications you're taking. (This is where your list can come in handy!) And review all of your medications with your primary care provider at least once a year. Don't forget to include any over-the-counter items like pain relievers, laxatives or vitamins.
Have questions about the medications you're taking? Make an appointment to talk to your doctor, or ask your pharmacist for advice.
Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; U.S. Food and Drug Administration