These days it seems there is a prescription medication for everything. We’re bombarded on a daily basis with ads for pharmaceuticals on TV, radio, in magazines, and online. In my role as a care manager, I often see seniors who have one or more chronic illnesses and are taking many prescribed medications.

Sometimes, these medications can have dangerous side effects or interact in a negative way with other drugs. For example, many seniors with sleep problems or anxiety are prescribed a sedative or benzodiazepine, but these medications can cause confusion and problems with balance, increasing the risk of falls. Anticholinergic drugs, such as certain antihistamines, can cause daytime drowsiness. Blood thinners can interact with antibiotics and other drugs. Unfortunately, multiple medications can cause side effects that are misdiagnosed for another condition, resulting in yet another prescription.

My philosophy is that preventing health problems is easier than treating them. To that end, I encourage my clients to take every possible step to improve or maintain their health. Besides the basics such as being physically active, eating a nutritious diet, getting plenty of sleep, managing stress, and scheduling annual physicals, vitamins and supplements can also be helpful.

It’s important for each person to check with their doctor before starting vitamins or supplements, as there can be interactions with other medications. Some vitamins and mineral supplements that may be beneficial for older adults include:

  • Calcium to keep bones strong
  • Vitamin D, which regulates the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body
  • Vitamin B6, which supports the formation of red blood cells
  • Vitamin B12, which keeps red blood cells and nerves healthy
  • Magnesium, which regulates muscle and nerve function, blood sugar levels and blood pressure

Be aware that the federal government does not generally test what is in dietary supplements, and companies do not have to prove their safety. Just because a supplement is labeled as “natural” or plant-based doesn’t mean that it’s safe or effective. It’s best to check with your doctor or a dietician to learn whether you need to supplement your diet and choose the brands that they recommend.

We regularly review our clients’ medications and help them speak to their doctors to make sure that they are taking the proper medications and doses. Having the wrong combination can cause more issues than they prevent. Please reach out if you would like us to review your loved one’s medications and care plan.

If you or someone in your family are facing aging challenges, please give us a call at 610-667-2838 or email us at CareManagement@waverlyheights.org. We’ll be happy to assist!