Community Blog

Brown Bag Check-ups Recommended for Seniors

By Debbie Humphrey

If you watch television, you probably see numerous commercials everyday about prescription medications that include a whole host of side effects. Often times, in the fine print at the bottom of the screen, there is statement about additional side effects not specifically mentioned within the narration of the commercial itself.

All drugs have side effects. That’s a given. Problems can arise, though, when different medications interact with each other in the body.

Fortunately, most people see the same doctor regularly, and more often than not, they use the same pharmacy, too. This is good, because pharmacists use technology to maintain patient profiles and keep track of what medications have been prescribed for specific conditions. Challenges can arise, however, when a senior takes medications they no longer need, or they take over-the-counter (OTC) drugs and supplements that are not intended to be used with certain prescriptions.

It’s been my experience, and that of my Home Helpers caregivers, that people use more than prescription medications in their daily regiments, things like vitamins, supplements, and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs. Obviously, doctors and pharmacists would not know this unless informed by the patient. That’s why healthcare providers today ask patients to bring a complete list of EVERYTHING the patient takes on a daily basis, so they can cross-check before prescribing something new.

Some people actually bring a bag of all their meds to show their healthcare providers, specialists, and/or pharmacists for what is known as a Brown Bag Check-up. Brown Bag Check-ups are a significant safety measure for seniors to ensure the medications they are taking are appropriate for their current health conditions and will not negatively interact with other OTC’s, prescription meds, and supplements.

For a complete Brown Bag Check-up, gather all the medications, vitamins, and supplements being consumed on a daily (or regular) basis to take to the doctor or pharmacist. They will cross-match what is in the patient’s current medical and pharmacy profiles to determine if there are duplications in therapeutic applications and make sure none will negatively interact with another or cause additional side effects. If there are potential issues with what is being taken, those issues can be addressed quickly and safely.

I am fortunate to have exceptional caregivers at Home Helpers. Part of what they do when they are caring for others is to remind them when it’s time to take their medications. Sometimes, caregivers voice concern about the sheer numbers of medications a senior is taking and the side effects they witness. That’s why a Brown Bag Check-up is so important.

If you know a senior who regularly takes medications, OTC’s, vitamins and supplements, I highly recommend the Brown Bag Check-up. If they are alone and need assistance with gathering their meds, or transportation to their doctor or pharmacist, give me a call. A perfectly-matched caregiver will be more than happy to lend a hand!

Home Helpers® proudly serves male and female seniors in Clearwater, Dunedin, Palm Harbor, Safety Harbor, Tarpon Springs, Holiday, New Port Richey, Trinity, Port Richey, Hudson and surrounding areas.

Contact us today to learn more about the many services offered through Home Helpers® We are Making Life Easier℠ 727.972.2539