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Caregiver’s Checklist for Medications

What to ask doctors and pharmacists about prescription drugs


Family Caregiver Alliance

A visit to the doctor or pharmacy is an opportunity for caregivers and patients to ask questions about new prescriptions and what to expect from them.

Before visiting the doctor or pharmacy, write down everything you want to talk about concerning medication.

Take notes during the appointment, and review those notes after the visit ends.

You may have additional questions to ask of doctors and pharmacists about medication, such as:

  • Why is this medicine prescribed?
  • How does the medicine work in my body?
  • How can I expect to feel once I start taking this medicine?
  • How will I know that the medicine is working? Is there a typical time period after which my symptoms should improve?
  • How long will I have to take the medicine? Will I need a refill when I finish this prescription?
  • Will this medicine interact with other medications—prescription and nonprescription—that I am taking now?
  • Should I take this medicine with food? Are there any foods or beverages I should avoid? (Grapefruit, for example, may interfere with the action of certain medications.) Is it safe to drink alcohol while on this medicine?
  • Are there any activities I should avoid while taking this medicine?
  • Can this medicine be chewed, crushed, dissolved, or mixed with other medicines?
  • What possible problems might I experience with the medicine? How can I prevent these problems from occurring? At what point should I report problems with the medicine?
  • What should I do if I miss a dose of this medicine, or take too much?
  • What is the cost of the medicine prescribed? Is there a less expensive alternative prescription?
  • Is a generic version of this medicine available? If so, should I purchase the generic instead of the brand name medicine?
  • Do you have written information about the medicine that I can take home with me?
  • Does the pharmacy provide special services such as home delivery or comprehensive medication review and counseling?

By asking questions like these you can help idenify problems with medicines before they arise.

More:
Help someone manage multiple prescriptions

Prescription problems: What to look for

Based on content in the Family Caregiver Alliance fact sheet “Medications: A Double-Edged Sword.”

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