These questions might be a little too personal. I know that. Answer only if you're entirely comfortable doing so.
How many medications are you taking? Just a few? Or is it dozens? Include that new prescription for hypertension you began a few months ago after your doctor said, "We have got to get those numbers down." Or is it two different medications for high blood pressure you've been prescribed? Taking a statin drug for high cholesterol? Include it on the list. Also include any over-the-counter drugs you take, such as the cough syrup you seem to be swallowing all the time lately for your raspy throat, those occasional laxatives, and the baby aspirin you take to avert the heart attacks aging males in your family have experienced.
Don't forget the items you pick up at the health-food store — Vitamin D, calcium and fish oil. Didn't you say your daughter-in-law thought you should start taking gingko biloba? Or was it your son who suggested saw palmetto? Put those on the list.
Your health provider makes decisions every day about the appropriate drug therapy for you and other aging patients with chronic medical conditions. According to an article in the peer-reviewed journal of the American Association of Family Physicians, more than 60 percent of older adults receive new prescriptions when they visit the doctor. The multiple medications and complex drug schedules may be entirely justified for older persons with complex medical problems, but the use of too many medications can cause serious adverse drug events and may contribute to "non-adherence." That term is being used more frequently. It means you're not taking the drug appropriately and the result can end up posing even more health-related issues.
The Internet is certainly a resource to help sort things out. But the Internet can also, according to Kristen Baker, sociologist at Oregon State University, "confuse anecdotes with verifiable fact."
When it comes to taking drugs, I want "real-people expertise." And I have rounded up some experts who can answer questions for you.
Through the good graces of Rogue Valley Medical Center, four pharmacists will answer questions about your medications from 6 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 10, at the Southern Oregon Research and Extension Center, 569 Hanley Road.
This is a personal issue, so the consultations will be private. They will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. Bring a list of all your medications (prescription and non-prescription), your dosages and the date started. Bring questions. No cost. No need to pre-register.
A program about medication jeopardy will happen at the same time, so you'll have something interesting to do in case you have to wait for your consultation. You can pop in and out of the presentation and pick up informational pamphlets — if you want them. It's all up to you. You're in charge.
Sharon Johnson is an associate professor in health and human sciences at Oregon State University and on the faculty of the OSU Extension. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 541-776-7371, Ext. 210.