There are many readers who may be members of the “Baby Boom” generation, and they also may be members of what many call “The Senior Surge” – individuals 65 and over. Beyond age 65, if one is in good health, one’s life expectancy could be longer than that of her parents’ and grandparents’ generations. And, if not in such good health, the numbers may literally blow the lid off available space in nursing homes in the not-too-distant future. Insurance actuaries and doctors tell us we need to be proactively on the look-out for symptoms of diseases frequently linked to aging, such as diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, high blood pressure, and Alzheimer’s, so we can nip them in the bud… or at least control them, before they may have devastating consequences.
The good news is there are a few basic things that can be done to remain safe, well and at home as long as possible. For instance, if one needs to take medication, the administration of medicines may be made a safer process by organizing them. Here are some tips from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration about the safe use of medicines:
1. Learn about medicines you take and those you are prescribed. Read about possible side-effects or drug interactions;
2. Check with your doctor or pharmacist about possible drug interactions if you take any other medicine(s). If you have questions, don’t be afraid to ask your medical professionals for answers;
3. If you experience unexpected negative side-effects to a medicine, call your doctor. If you experience negative side-effects that are not only unexpected but are marked to severe, call 911 or go to an emergency room;
4. Use a calendar, a pill box noting the days of the week, or any other aids, to help you remember what medicine you need to take and when;
5. Record the information your doctor provides about your medicines or your health conditions in a notebook or tablet (or on your computer in a file) especially devoted to your health appointments and information;
6. Make sure to go to all doctor and dental appointments and to testing appointments your doctor recommends and prescribes;
7. Take a friend or relative with you to your health appointments if you think you might need help hearing, understanding or remembering what the doctor tells you (and please know that this is not an unusual situation but an everyday event);
8. Perform an annual review of your medicines; go through the medicine cabinet and safely dispose of any medicines which you no longer take or which may be expired; do an annual review of your prescriptions with your physician as well. Your physical conditions and medicine requirements can change from time to time—sometimes even for the better;
9. Be sure to tell your physician if you are taking any over-the-counter vitamins, minerals or herbal remedies in addition to what your doctor may prescribe in case of any possible interactions;
10. Make sure to keep all medicines out of the reach of children; don’t leave medicines or pills out, no matter how convenient it might seem—many medicines look like candy to kids and pets.