Medicine Safety for Older Adults – What You Need to Know

Medicine Safety

Medicines are one of the best inventions of man. They help people to live a healthier life, and extend their lifespan as well. However, when certain kinds are mixed or when they’re taken incorrectly, there’s a high risk involved. It’s crucial to track medications and make sure they’re used in a safe manner.

Medicines and Drugs Are the Same

Before looking into pharmacy consulting services, it’s key to clarify the terminology. There is a misconception that the term drugs only refers to illicit substances. In reality, ‘medicines’ and ‘drugs’ are interchangeable, so yes, it’s possible to take drugs that are legal and actually good for the body. Other terms that older adults should be familiar with, possibly through a pharmacy consultant in Edmonton, include:

  • Over-the-Counter (OTC) – This refers to creams, liquids, or pills that can be bought without a prescription. These are usually kiddie vitamin chewables or aspirin for headaches.
  • Prescriptions – This is essentially a set of instructions from a doctor, alongside a straightforward order of certain medications. Aside from the standard pills, which can cover a wide range, this also includes the likes of an asthma inhaler.

It should be noted that a doctor needs to be fully aware of every medication taken in. Aside from prescriptions from other doctors, this also includes herbal remedies, supplements, vitamins, and the occasional OTC medicines.


It’s key to consult with a healthcare provider such as a doctor or nurse before a new medicine is started. Review all allergies and any issues with other medicines. This includes dizziness, changes in mood, breathing troubles, indigestion, and rashes. A new medication may also require a switch of OTC drugs or other prescriptions, if not put a stop to them entirely. As previously mentioned, when some medicines get mixed up, there can be dangerous issues. A good example is a person who takes blood-thinning medicine; it would be risky for them to take aspirin.

When a new medicine is prescribed, it’s key to ask questions like the following:

  • What is the medication’s name, and what’s the purpose of taking it?
  • How many times a day should it be taken, and what time?
  • How long before the medicine takes effect?
  • Until when should the medicine be taken?
  • Will a refill be in order? How does that happen?

The best rule is to keep a list of all the over-the-counter remedies and prescription drugs being taken. Note down not just the medicine’s name, but why it was prescribed in the first place. If there are any special instructions for consumption, include that as well.


When there are questions about OTC drugs or prescriptions, a pharmacist can help. It’s good to have the same pharmacy fill prescriptions to keep records in one place. When a prescription gets filled, take note of the following:

  • Ask for guidance with medicine storage
  • Ask for help with ensuring the medicine container’s information is legible
  • Ensure there are no ingredients that will trigger allergies
  • Inform the pharmacist of any issues with swallowing pills


Older adults may get a little confused when it comes to medicines. It’s key to stay informed on the basics, such as the terms medicines and drugs being interchangeable. Try to have prescriptions filled at the same pharmacy, and don’t be afraid to ask pharmacists for help.

In need of pharmacy consulting services in Edmonton? Reach out to Pharmasave today! We are focused on building a national platform of community-based retail outlets designed to provide exceptional patient-centred healthcare.