As a caregiver you have the responsibility of watching for and reporting to the physician any side effect, behavioral changes, and symptoms that could be associated with the person's medication. Being alert to side effects is particularly important when the person has difficulty communicating and may not be able to let you know how he or she is feeling. Of course if the person is very forgetful and confused, you alone may be responsible for ensuring that the correct medications are taken, in the proper doses.

To become as informed as possible about each medication, ask your pharmacist or physician the following questions. To ensure that you remember all responses, take notes, ask for written instructions, or tape the conversation.

Questions to ask about medications:

* What is the drug suppose to do for the problem?

* What are the side effects, both common and infrequent?

* What time[s] of day should the drug be taken? * Should the drug be taken with food, before or after meals, or on an empty stomach?

* Should certain foods be avoided while taking this medication?

* Is the drug available in another form? If it's a tablet, can it be ground up and mixed with food? People who have swallowing problems may find it easier to take a ground-up pill mixed with applesauce, or in a liquid form if available.

* Should certain activities be avoided while taking this medication? Should the sun be avoided while on this medication?

* How long should the medication be taken?

* How long until some benefits will be apparent?

* Might it interact with other drugs the person is taking?

(c) copyright 1996


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