If you take 5 or more medications, verify it’s a safe combination.
As people age, the likelihood increases they will need multiple medications to treat one or more conditions. In fact, nearly half of all adults 65+ take more than five prescriptions. These people are at risk for medication interactions and side effects, posing a greater risk of harm than benefit.
In addition, natural changes in the body as people age can affect how medications work. This can impact the most effective dose and how medications are metabolized.
Medication overload often happens when patients seek medical care from multiple providers. Older adults and family members or care partners should learn about the risks of medication overload and request a prescription check-up to talk with their providers.
Possible Symptoms of Medication Overload
Steps to Avoiding Medication Overload
- Make a complete and accurate list of all medications you or your loved one are taking and keep it with you. Your list should include:
- Prescription medicine’s brand name, if applicable, and generic name
- Over-the-counter medicines, herbal preparations, and supplements that you take regularly or on occasion
- Why you’re taking each medication
- The dosage (for instance, 300 mg)
- How often you take it
- The phone number of the pharmacy where you fill your prescriptions
*Consider giving a copy to a friend or loved one that you trust — which is especially important in case of emergency.
- Review your list with your health care providers
- If you’re seeing more than one health care provider, share your medication list with each one, so they know every medication and supplement you take, even if you don’t take them every day. Your pharmacist also can advise you about potential medication interactions and side effects.
- Ask them about how to avoid excess prescriptions and stop unnecessary medications.
- If it’s not possible to review medications during each visit, schedule at least one annual review with your primary care provider.