Taking Drugs? If Your Doctor Talked a Mile a Minute – What Should You Do?


As the years pass, you find yourself taking more and more pills, but what are they all for? How do I get rid of the ones I don’t need anymore? Am I taking them right? There are a thousand questions to ask and only a few places to get the answers.

What are they all for?

Your doctor should have told you, but if he is anything like mine, you only saw him for 5-10 minutes and he talked a mile a minute. Maybe he didn’t talk loudly enough or his English was a little broken, it happens. What should you do? Call him every day as a reminder? That won’t work. The internet has some good information, but most people like to have something in their hands that they can read. There is a book called the Nurse’s Handbook. Like the title implies it is for nurses to check drugs to see if they interact with each other and to see what they are for. The good news is that it is easy to read, simple language, and is available to the public. Most local libraries have a copy that you can make copies from or your bookstore should be able to order it for you. It will tell you exactly what the drug does, what is usually prescribed for, and what drugs to never take with it. All of the side effects are also listed.

Am I taking my Pills Correctly?

taking pills correctlyThat is a big question for seniors. If you take a drug at the wrong time during the day, you may be up all night, or sleep all day. Your best resource for this question is going to be your pharmacist. They have the time to go in-depth with you. If a pill says three times a day, that usually means three times during your normal waking hours, not to get up in the middle of the night to take it. It is critical to ask every question you have and get it answered satisfactorily. This is your health; do not hesitate to ask questions about anything. Most pharmacy’s I go to, have a form you have to sign to say you don’t want counseling- so they are aware of this concern. Use this resource, ask your questions, and write down the answers. Memory tends to fade with time, so keep your drug information all in one place. To make sure you take all of your medicines at the right times, get a pill planner. They are those little plastic containers that hold pills for morning, noon, night, for each day of the week. We all tend to get a little forgetful at times; you have to be able to stay on top of your medication regimen. Take the medicines for the duration proscribed by your doctor, and call to report any complications. Enlisting the help of an adult child is often helpful, but consider carefully.

How Do I Get Rid Of The Pills I Don’t Need Anymore?

Most people let their old medicines sit on a shelf in case they need them again, forgetting that pills expire after a while. They actually lose their potency from sitting around and should be disposed of safely. It is safer for your children/grandchildren if you get rid of them too, as young children are very inquisitive and sometimes think the pretty colored pills are candy. Flushing them just contaminates the drinking water. If you throw them in the trash, they will eventually seep into the ground water. You can return unused medications for disposal to the pharmacy in many cases, so call first before you take them. Most of them have a way of disposing of them that will not affect the environment. I know here in Santa Cruz California, there are several locations, mostly at pharmacies.