Frequently Asked Questions for Pharmacists
October is American Pharmacists Month, which makes it the perfect time to recognize the important role that pharmacists have in serving the health needs of our senior citizen population. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 7 out of 10 adults between the ages of 40 and 79 use at least one prescribed medication, and around 1 in 5 take at least five medications.
With the sheer amount of medications available and regularly prescribed these days, pharmacists serve an increasingly important role in helping older adults how to safely and properly take their medications prescribed by their doctor. Here are some common questions that pharmacists regularly answer to help you grasp their role and importance better.
- Why is a pharmacist important to my health? Pharmacists are well versed in pharmacology, the branch of medicine that focuses on the uses and effects of drugs. A pharmacist understands the therapeutic role of drugs, their side effects, and any potential interactions with other drugs. Pharmacists can monitor these factors and educate patients on which foods and activities can affect their medications. They’re also able to make recommendations for helpful over the counter remedies for minor maladies, which can save you a trip to the doctor. And with many grocery stores and big box stores operating a pharmacy, finding out which OTC medications can help you with colds, headaches, and other non serious conditions can be combined with regular shopping trips.
- What if a medication makes me sleepy? Some prescription and OTC medications can indeed make you drowsy. This is a particular issue for seniors as it can lead to issues with balance and make a fall more likely. Dosing schedules are important for avoiding daytime drowsiness that certain medications can cause. Also, people need to be cautioned away from driving or operating potentially dangerous equipment while using a medication that causes drowsiness. It’s best to check with your doctor or pharmacist before using any medication, and especially when adding in an OTC medication which may not be part of your medical record and could cause potential drug interactions.
- What are some medication side effects? There are medications for seniors that help with memory, especially for those suffering from Alzheimer’s or other dementias. However, other medications can cloud memory and interfere with memory issues and make them worse. This is obviously a concern with the elderly. Some medications, particularly sleep aids, can leave people feeling hazy and making it more difficult to fully waken or stand up. When this happens a doctor may need to be consulted, possibly to reduce the dosage amount, especially for those already at an increased risk of falling.
- Does it really matter what time of day I take my medications? Yes, a dosing schedule for multiple medications is extremely important. Every medication will have its own schedule, once a day, twice a day, three times, etc. You should be taking each medication at the times prescribed by your doctor to ensure you’re getting the most beneficial effects of that medication.