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Medication Safety Tips For Children And Older Adults

Medication safety is an important topic for everyone to be educated about. If you are a senior citizen or are a caregiver to a child, it’s especially important to know the facts as these age groups are often most at risk for medication errors.

In today’s Take Care article, Charles Hill, a Registered Pharmacist and Director of Keystone Pharmacy shares some medication safety tips all parents and older adults should know. 

What are some tips for parents about proper medication dosage?

Unfortunately, accidental medication overdoses in children happen every day. However, there are easy ways to prevent it. A few simple tips that can help you keep your child safe are:

  1. Always read and follow the “Drug Facts” label on over-the-counter medication
  2. Know the difference between a teaspoon (5 mL) and a tablespoon (15 mL)
  3. Know the current weight of your child as many medications are dosed by weight
  4. Make sure you are giving the right medicine in the right amount to the child
  5. Talk to your doctor, pharmacist or nurse to find out if medications can be given together

What should you do if you think your child has swallowed medication they should not have taken?

First, never guess what you should do. Stay calm and act quickly. If the child can’t be awakened, is having difficulty breathing, collapses or has a seizure call 911 immediately. If your child does not have these symptoms call the Poison Help number, 1-800-222-1222, where an expert in poisoning is available 24 hours a day and seven days a week. It’s a good idea to save this number in your cell phone or keep it somewhere in your home where you can easily locate it, such as the refrigerator. Calls are free and confidential.

If you do call, be prepared with the following information: Your name and phone number, your child’s name, weight, and any medical conditions he or she has, any medicine your child is taking, the name of the item your child swallowed, the time your child swallowed the item (or when you found your child) and the amount you think was taken.

What are some medication safety tips for older adults?

As you age, you are more likely to use additional medications which increase the chance of harmful drug effects, including interactions. Additionally, as you age, physical changes to your body can affect the way your body handles medicine leading to potential side effects or complications. These four safety tips from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are a good starting point for many seniors:

  1. Take medicine as prescribed – with input from your health care provider. Do not take prescription medication you haven’t been prescribed. Don’t skip doses or stop taking medication without first consulting with your provider. And if you’re having bothersome side effects or other questions, talk to your provider before making the decision to stop.
  2. Keep a medication list and update it frequently. Your list should include the name of the medication, the dosage and how often you take it. Also include why you’re on the medication. Give a copy of the list to a friend or loved one that you trust. Consider using one pharmacy. This helps your pharmacist keep track of potential interactions, side effects and allows them help you more efficiently.
  3. Be aware of potential drug interactions and side effects. You can do this by carefully reading “Drug Facts” labels on over-the-counter medications, reading the patient information leaflets dispensed with each new prescription drug and reviewing any special instructions provided to you by your healthcare provider. Be sure to share your current medication list with each healthcare provider you see.
  4. Review medications with your health care provider. Ideally, you should discuss prescription, over-the-counter and dietary supplements that you take with your health care provider at each visit. The purpose is to confirm the medications are still necessary and if the supplements are appropriate – and to determine which ones you can stop taking (if any).

As always, if you have any questions related to your medications, don’t hesitate to ask your pharmacist. We are here to help! In the next article, I will be discussing the correct ways to store and dispose of medications.

 

This article contains general information only and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis, treatment or care by a qualified health care provider.