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8 Questions to Ask the Pharmacist When Seniors Get New Prescriptions

questions to ask the pharmacist

Pharmacists are trusted experts who can explain what medications are for, how to take them, and if there are potential drug interactions or side effects. Talking with them about your older adult’s medication helps keep them healthy and feeling as good as possible. Walgreens shares 8 important questions to ask the pharmacist when your older adult gets a new prescription.

Have you ever gotten a new prescription for your older adult only to get home and realize you don’t know how they should take it or what it’s for?

About half of the 3.8 billion prescriptions in the U.S. are taken incorrectly. This includes mistakes around timing, dosage, frequency, and duration.

Avoid misunderstandings about medications by reaching out to a pharmacist. Surveys have found that pharmacists come out on top as one of the most trusted healthcare professionals.

Think of the pharmacist as part of your older adult’s care team.

If they see multiple specialists for various conditions or the doctor’s office isn’t up-to-date on all their prescriptions, their physician may not be aware of all the medications they’re taking.

Pharmacists are willing to help you understand why your older adult needs the medication, give details on how to take it properly, help manage side effects, evaluate cost-effectiveness, and review their full medication list to find out if there are any dangerous medication interactions.

But before filling the prescription, be sure to talk with your older adult’s doctor to understand its purpose and how it helps their health condition.

This is essential to know because some people may decide not to take medication because they don’t know what it’s for or why they need it. Get your best health outcomes by understanding and properly taking your new and current medications.

Here are 8 questions to ask the pharmacist to ensure that your older adult is taking medications safely and effectively.


8 important questions to ask the pharmacist about a new prescription

1. Are there any risks? What are the benefits of taking the medication? Weighing the risks and benefits can ensure that your older adult is getting the best medication for their health conditions.

2. What are the side effects? Being aware of potential side effects and reporting them to your older adult’s physician early on can help in their treatment.

3. How expensive is this medication and will insurance cover it? The doctor may not know the cost of a certain medication and there are many types of insurance coverages.

Most likely, the pharmacist will have information about how much a medication will cost.

4. Does the medication come in a generic form and is it effective? Generic forms of medications are generally cheaper and are usually just as effective.

However, keep in mind that newer medications may not come in the generic form and may be the drug of choice for a particular medical condition.

5. Are there any special considerations when taking the medication? How should it be taken? Check to see if the medication needs to be taken with food or on an empty stomach, or at a certain time of day. Also, some medications are more tolerable when taken at different times.

Advertisement 6. When will the medication take effect? Some medications take effect quickly within minutes or hours, while others may take four to six weeks to get to full therapeutic levels.

Knowing this information will help set expectations so you don’t mistakenly think the medication isn’t working and have your older adult stop taking it too soon.

7. How long will they need to take the medication? Medication for an easily treatable condition may work in as little as one dose, but a medication for chronic conditions may need to be taken for years.

Ask the pharmacist which category this medication will be in.

8. Why is this new drug better than what they were previously taking? A new drug may be more effective for managing a condition or may have fewer side effects.

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Guest contributor: Jean Cherry, RN, MBA, writes on behalf of Walgreens offering helpful tips to seniors and their caregivers. Be sure to also let your pharmacist know of any vitamins or supplements you’re taking. You can find an assortment of vitamins to complement a healthy diet at

Although it is intended to be accurate, neither Walgreen Co., its subsidiaries or affiliates, nor any other party assumes for loss or damage due to reliance on this material. Walgreens does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, physicians, products, procedures, opinions, or other information that may be mentioned in the article. Reliance on any information provided by this article is solely at your own risk.

This article wasn’t sponsored, but does contain some affiliate links. We never link to products or services for the sole purpose of making a commission. Recommendations are based on our honest opinions. For more information, see How We Make Money.


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