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Medication Management


The combination of increased medication use paired with the normal body changes caused by aging can increase the chance of unwanted, and even harmful, drug interactions. According to a study of older adults taking five or more medications, 35% experienced an adverse effect from at least one, 63% required physician intervention, 10% required and ER visit, and 11% were hospitalized.i Twenty-eight percent of all hospitalizations among older adults were found to be drug related, 11% for nonadherence.ii Nonadherence to medication regimens is a major cause of nursing home placement of older adults.iii The more you know about your medicines and the more you talk with your health care professionals, the easier it is to avoid potential medication problems.


Until 2012, of OAA Title IIID funding, States and Territories are required to use approximately 25 percent for medication management, screening, and education activities to prevent incorrect medication and adverse drug reactions.

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Communication is the key to preventing medication errors. Talk to your health care provider and pharmacist about your medications. The value of pharmacists as resources in preventive care is underutilized. On average, a community pharmacy is located within two miles of every American home. Consider asking the following questions:

  • What is the generic form of this medication and can I take it?
  • What is this medication supposes to do?
  • What are their side effects and what should I do if they occur?
  • When will it begin to work and how can I tell if it is working?
  • Will I have any testing to monitor the medication’s effects?
  • How and when should I take it and for how long?
  • Should it be taken with food?
  • Are there foods, drinks, other medications, or herbal supplements I should avoid?
  • How should I store it?
  • What should I do if I miss a dose?
  • Am I able to drive?

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Innovative Programs

Share your innovative medication management program! The Administration on Aging would like to acknowledge the work of the Aging Services Network in enhancing the health and wellbeing of older adults across the country through medication programs. Let us know about innovative medication management programs in your community. If you would like to submit your medication management program, please email Danielle Nelson.

Here is an example of an innovative Older Americans Act Title III-D funded medication management program, as well as a National medication management opportunity:

INCOG Area Agency on Aging Medication Management Workshop & Drug Recycling Program
Modules from the Chronic Disease Self Management Program (CDSMP) manual are held as Healthy Aging Workshops in a 4-part series, medication management is one workshop. A pharmacist and final year pharmacy students provide one-on-one medication reviews with participants. In addition, through the network of senior centers, over-the-counter medications are recycled through the Recycled Medication Program and redistributed. These programs are a partnership with Tulsa County Social Services and University of Oklahoma School of Pharmacy.
National Prescription Take-Back Days
Got Drugs LogoThe Drug Enforcement Administration and its National and community partners give the public opportunities to prevent accidental overdose, abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs. DEA and its partners hold regular National Prescription Drug Take-Back Days at sites nationwide. The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked. To find out when the next Take-Back Day will be and to locate a nearby collection site, visit and use the “Got Drugs?” icon. This icon will link you to a database where you can enter your zip code for a full listing of collection sites in your area. Advertise a local Take-Back site or contact the DEA to become a location host in your community.

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Man holding a bottle of water Acetaminophen Awareness Materials & Resources

Medicines and You: A Guide for Older Adults

Prescription Drug Options for Older Adults: Managing Your Medicines

Eldercare Locator: Find Healthy Aging Programs 1-800-677-1116

National Council on Aging: Medication Management

Partners in Care Foundation: HomeMeds Program

NIH Senior Health: Taking Medicines FAQs

National Family Partnership: Medication Toolkit: Be Aware. Don’t Share

FDA: My Medicine Record and How to Dispose of Unused Medicines

For Drug Information contact the FDA toll free at (888) 463-6332 or by email at:

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i Hanlon, J.T., Schmader, K.E., Koronkowski, M.J, Weinberger, M., Landsman, P.B., Samsa, G.P. & Lewis, I.K (1998). Adverse Drug Events in High Risk Older Outpatients. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 46(2), 252-3.
ii Swanlund, S.L., Scherck, K.A., Metcalfe, S.A. & Jesek-Hale, S.R. (2008). Keys to Successful Self-Management of Medications. Nursing Science Quarterly, 21, 238-47.
iii Lewis, A. (1997). Non-compliance: a $100 billion problem. The Remington Report, 5(4), 14-5.