At Life Care Centers of America, we recognize the dedication of the sandwich generation. Taking care of your children as well as your parents can seem to be a daunting task. Care for the elderly comes with its own set of unique challenges. We hope you find the following helpful.

Medicine is definitely a blessing. Used correctly, it can correct physiological problems, save lives and generally make us feel better.

To use medication safely, the Food and Drug Administration and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality have issued a helpful checklist consumers should follow. Share these with your parents:

Bring a list of or a bag with ALL your medications when you go to the doctor’s office, the pharmacy or the hospital. Make sure to include all your prescriptions and over-the-counter medications (like aspirin, antacids, vitamins and herbal supplements). If your doctor prescribes a new medicine, ask if it is safe to use with your other medications. Remind your doctor and pharmacist if you have any drug allergies.

Ask questions about your medications. Also make sure you understand the answers. Choose a pharmacist and doctor you feel comfortable talking to about your medications and overall health.

Write down questions as you think of them. When you visit the doctor, bring your questions. You may also want to bring a friend or family member to help you ask the questions and remind you about the answers later. Write down as much as possible.

Make sure your medicine is what the doctor ordered. Ask yourself these questions while examining your medications: Does the medicine seem different than what the doctor wrote on the prescription or look different than you expected? Does a refill look like it is a different shape, color or size than what you were given before? If something seems wrong, ask the pharmacist to double-check it. Most errors are first found by the patient.

Ask how to use the medicine correctly. Read the directions on the label and other information you receive with your medicine. Make sure you understand the directions. Have the pharmacist or doctor explain anything you do not understand. Ask if you need lab tests to check how the medicine is working or to check for side effects. Also, are there other medications, foods or activities that should be avoided while using this medicine?

Ask about possible side effects. Side effects can happen with any medicine. Ask your doctor or pharmacist what side effects to expect and which ones are serious. Call your doctor right away if you have a serious side effect or if a side effect does not get better. A change in the medicine or the dose may be needed.

These simple questions could save time, money and even your life. Make sure in dealing with medications that you always ask a medical professional any questions you have and keep asking until you understand. Used as intended, medications can be life-savers.

For more information on medication management, or senior care options, visit Article provided by The Bridge at Florissant, Life Care Center of Bridgeton, Life Care Center of Florissant, Life Care Center of Saint Louis and The Westchester House.