By Molly Daly

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Parents may be prepared to talk to their kids about drugs , but may not know how to talk to their parents about the medications they’re prescribed.

Penn professor of geriatric medicine Dr. Mary Ann Forciea says, at minimum, most older patients take four or five prescriptions, some as many as ten

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They’re intended to improve their lives, but if taken incorrectly — at the wrong time, missing doses, cutting pills to save money — the patient won’t get the benefit, and could land in the emergency room.

So how do you make sure they’re doing it right? Dr. Forciea says to ask the senior patient to help you out:

“You can say, ‘gee, mom, I would like to have a record of what pills you’re taking now in case you wind up in the hospital and they call me and ask for this. Can we look at your pill bottles together?'”

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Ask them to read to you what the label says, open the bottle, and tell you what it’s for. If they can’t, Forciea says the solution could be simple:

“Some of the pharmacies are using different labels that are easier to read, or bottles that are much easier to open.”

If they’re confused about what to take when, Forciea says there are programmable pill dispensers that eliminate the guesswork. But she says the most important thing to do is start the conversation.

 

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