Skip Navigation

Medicine Safety for Older Adults


Most adults ages 65 and older regularly take at least 5 different medicines. More medicines can mean more mistakes. And, as we age, physical changes can affect the ways medicine works in our body, leading to potential complications. Medicines can help us live longer and healthier lives, but taking them in the wrong way or wrong amount can be dangerous. Follow these important medicine safety tips:

  • When starting a new medicine, make sure you understand why it was prescribed to you. Make note of any special instructions for how to take the medicine. Questions to ask your doctor or pharmacist when prescribed a new medicine:
    • What is the name of the medicine and why am I taking it?
    • How much and how often do I take this?
    • What if I miss a dose or double the dose of my medicine?
    • What side effects could I have?
    • While taking this medicine, should I avoid any activities, foods, drinks, alcohol or other medicines?
  • Keep a current medicine list including all prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins and supplements. This list should include the name of each medicine, amount you take and times you take it. Bring this list with you to all healthcare visits.
  • Always turn on lights and put glasses on before taking or giving medication.
  • Read and follow the medicine label to make sure you are taking the right medicine, in the right amount, at the right time.
  • Do not share your medicine and only use medicine that is prescribed to you.
  • Take your medicine as directed – do not take it more frequently or in higher quantities.
  • Use just one pharmacy so that your prescription records are all in one place. This enables your pharmacist to regularly monitor the medications you take and let you know about potential drug interactions.
  • Store all medicines up, away and out of sight, especially if small children are around.
  • Safely dispose of all expired and unused medicines. See additional information on safe medicine disposal.

If you have questions or think you made a medication mistake, call 1-800-222-1222.

Call the 24-Hour Poison Help Line for Additional Support:


Medicine Safety for Older Adults

Related links