Test Your Medication Safety IQ

Medications play a big role in managing health problems, and help us live longer. But medications can also be the cause of health problems, especially for seniors, who are more likely to take a number of prescription drugs. Take this short medications safety quiz to learn more. (Answers at bottom.)

True or False?

  1. Medications are helpful, so the more, the better!
  2. When I buy off-the-shelf drugs, I should check the packaging carefully.
  3. If I am taking prescription drugs, it’s still OK to take any over-the-counter medications I choose.
  4. I can ask my pharmacist for a regular cap rather than a childproof lid.
  5. Since herbal remedies are natural, they are all safe.
  6. Pain medications only mask pain, and cannot improve the condition that is causing the pain.
  7. I should check the label of prescriptions to be sure I have received the correct medication.
  8. Physical activity can decrease or even eliminate the need for many medications.
  9. My doctors all exchange notes to keep track of my prescriptions.
  10. If I am taking medication and start to feel better, I should stop taking my medication right away.

Answers to “Test Your Medications Safety IQ”:

  1. Medications are helpful, so the more, the better!
    FALSE—It’s important to take the exact dosage your doctor prescribes. If you have trouble remembering to take your medication, a container with compartments can help. Or keep track with a chart.
  2. When I buy off-the-shelf drugs, I should check the packaging carefully.
    TRUE—Most medicines today come in tamper-proof packaging, such as a sealed box and bottle. Examine the outside packaging before you make the purchase, and check the inside seal once you get the bottle home.
  3. If I am taking prescription drugs, it’s still OK to take any over-the counter medications I choose.
    FALSE—Drug interactions can take place even with nonprescription drugs. When you begin a new prescription, find out from your doctor or pharmacist what other medications should be avoided.
  4. I can ask my pharmacist for a regular cap rather than a childproof lid.
    TRUE—You don’t have to be a child to have trouble with those childproof lids! If arthritis or other conditions make it difficult to open safety lids, ask your pharmacist for a regular cap. You’ll have to request this each time you refill your prescription—and be sure to be doubly careful to keep all medications out of the reach of children.
  5. Since herbal remedies are natural, they are all safe.
    FALSE—Herbal medications may contain dangerous contaminants, and some can interfere with or cause bad interactions with prescription medications. Some herbal medications can be toxic in large doses. Always tell your healthcare provider about any herbal remedies you are taking.
  6. Pain medications only mask pain, and cannot improve the condition that is causing the pain.
    FALSE—Some pain relievers also reduce inflammation. And treating the pain of arthritis and some other health conditions can allow you to get the kind of exercise that actually improves the condition itself.
  7. I should check the label of prescriptions to be sure I have received the correct medication.
    TRUE—While pharmacy errors are rare, they do happen. As soon as you receive a prescription, read the label. If you have any questions about the correct drug and dosage, ask your pharmacist.
  8. Physical activity can decrease or even eliminate the need for many medications.
    TRUE—Diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, high cholesterol and other conditions often improve with increased exercise. Ask your healthcare provider about an exercise plan that’s best for you.
  9. 9. My doctors all exchange notes to keep track of my prescriptions.
    FALSE—If you are seeing two or more doctors at the same time, tell each about all the medications you are taking, to avoid overmedication and drug interactions.
  10. 10. If I am taking medication and start to feel better, I should stop taking the medication right away.
    FALSE—You should take your medication for the full length of the prescribed treatment. It is also very important to complete the whole cycle of antibiotics. Also, do not go off a long-term medication without checking with your doctor.

For More Information

The National Institute on Aging offers a free booklet, “Safe Use of Medicines” [add link to:  http://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/safe-use-medicines/questions-ask-about-your-medicines], which you can order or download online.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration offers information on medication safety for older adults.  [add link to: http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/ucm163959.htm].

The U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) offers tips for using medicines safely. [add link to: http://www.ahrq.gov/patients-consumers/diagnosis-treatment/treatments/checkmeds/index.html]

The information in this article is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. Speak to your healthcare provider if you have questions about your prescription or over-the-counter medications.

Copyright © AgeWise, 2014