Caregiver's Checklist for Medications
What to ask doctors and pharmacists about prescription drugs
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.
Based on content in the Family Caregiver Alliance fact sheet “Medications: A Double-Edged Sword.”
MissionFamily Caregiver Alliance is a public voice for caregivers, illuminating the daily challenges they face, offering them the assistance they so desperately need and deserve, and championing their cause through education, services, research and advocacy. Who We Are Founded in 1977, Family Caregiver Alliance was the first community-based nonprofit organization in the country to address the needs of families and friends providing long-term care at home. Long recognized as a pioneer in health services, the alliance offers programs at national, state and local levels to support and sustain caregivers.National, State and Local Programs Uniting research, policy and practice, the alliance established the National Center on Caregiving to advance the development of high-quality, cost effective programs and policies for caregivers in every state in the country. The National Center on Caregiving sponsors the Family Care Navigator to help caregivers locate support services in their communities. Family Caregiver Alliance also oversees Link2Care, an Internet support and information system for clients of California's system of Caregiver Resource Centers and operates the Bay Area Caregiver Resource Center in the six-county San Francisco Bay Area. In that capacity, the alliance's staff social workers work closely with families caring for ill or elderly loved ones. Our services, education programs and publications are developed with their expressed needs in mind, to offer real support, essential information, and tools to manage the complex and demanding tasks of caregiving.