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Getting the most from your medicines

As we get older, many of us find that we need to take at least one medication due to a long-term health condition. Although it can become routine, some people may have problems remembering to take a dose, opening child-proof bottles, using an asthma inhaler or applying eye drops.

Your pharmacist can help you better understand your medicines and solve any medication challenges

What should I know about my medicines?

To get the most out of your medicines and avoid unwanted side effects, you should ask your doctor or pharmacist about:

  • different ways to treat your condition
  • what will happen if you don’t take your medication
  • what are the benefits of certain medications
  • any side effects or risks
  • how long you will need to take the medication for
  • how you will know if it's working
  • anything you should avoid while you’re using medication and afterwards
  • anything you can do to help yourself.

These questions are especially helpful to ask before you start taking a medication.

When you are first prescribed a drug, a health professional should sit down and discuss your condition and options with you. This will help you make an informed decision about your health and treatment.

Ultimately, the decision is yours and you don't have to agree to any treatment that you're not happy with.

What could happen if I stop taking my medicines?

Suddenly stopping certain medicines can have side effects or worsen your health condition. If you’re having problems with your medication, talk to your GP or pharmacist first before making any changes.

What pharmacy services are available that can help me with my medicines?

New Medicine Service

This is a free NHS service for people who are prescribed certain medicines for the first time.

You may use this service if you have:

  • asthma
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • a lung condition, such as COPD
  • high blood pressure
  • a condition where you need blood-thinning medicine

Your pharmacist will support and talk to you one-to-one in the first few weeks of starting a new medication. It’s an opportunity for you to ask any questions and bring up any issues you’ve had when taking a new medicine.

Medicine Use Review (MUR)

This is a free NHS service for people who may have difficulties with managing multiple medications.

A pharmacist will talk to you one-to-one about all your prescribed medicines, as well as any over-the-counter medicines or supplements. It gives you a chance to tell your pharmacist about problems you may be having with your medicines and to ask questions.

Your pharmacist can give you tips about how to take your medicines the best way and help solve any problems you have.

You may get an MUR if you:

  • are taking medications where the dose is critical
  • have recently been discharged from hospital and changes were made to the medicines you were taking
  • take medications to help your breathing
  • are at risk of or been diagnosed with cardiovascular disease and take at least four medicines.

Other services

Your pharmacist might also offer other services that help with your medications, such as:

  • a home delivery service which may help if you have difficulty shopping
  • a health check service to help with your long-term health conditions and see if your medications are working well
  • an online repeat prescription service where you can pick up medications without having to get a paper prescription from your GP first
  • pre-packaging your medications in single use foil dispenser so that you know what you should be taking at different times of the day.

Where can I find further information?

Keep an updated list of all your medications, including prescription, over-the-counter and herbal medications.

Age NI Advice Service

Every year our Advice Service deals with thousands of calls from older people in need. Call us today to make sure that you are receiving all the help and support available to you.

Call freephone 0808 808 7575
Monday - Friday 9am – 5pm 


Last updated: May 05 2020

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