Aging Parent Rx Drug Safety Tip: Work with Primary Care Physician

Concerned about the sheer number of prescription meds your aging parent is taking? You should be. It’s all too easy for an elderly person’s medicine cabinet to turn into a drug store as they age.

And it can be dangerous — especially if meds prescribed by different specialists are redundant or create unintended side effects when combined. Dizziness, for instance, can lead to serious fall-related injuries.

Your parent’s primary care physician should be able to help with this challenge:

These doctors can best monitor the broad array of conditions and subspecialists their patients may be dealing with. You don’t want too many people making medical decisions and changing medications and dosages—so make sure mom or dad has a single provider who’s actively coordinating their care.

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When the time comes for you to take a more active role in your aging parent’s health, start by meeting with your parent and their doctor during an office visit. Ask the doctor to review your parent’s medications for safety. And while you’re at it, make a mental note about the quality of the doctor/patient relationship. Does your parent’s doctor take time to listen? Does he or she answer questions from you or your parent clearly or impatiently?

If your parent’s primary care physician isn’t willing to take charge, seriously consider finding a doctor who will. As your parent ages and faces new health challenges, you need team players who are eager to get in the game — not sit on the sidelines.