National Senior Safety Week: Drug safety insight for seniors

Local pharmacist, Janet Vanyo, strongly recommends bringing medications that are no longer being used into your local pharmacy.

The Canada Safety Council’s National Senior Safety Week is from Nov. 6 to the 12, and this year’s focus is on advocating “for the safe use of medication to ensure the health, well being, and utmost quality of life for aging Canadians.”

The Safety Council has a list of safety tips, including that seniors keep a list of all prescription and non-prescription medication with them at all times; use the same pharmacy to fill all prescriptions and keep their pharmacist informed about over-the-counter drugs, herbal medications, and vitamins; read printed information on prescription drugs; take medications in the recommended dosages and at the recommended times of day; and do not share prescription medications with others.

But pharmacist Janet Vanyo of the upper I.D.A Pharmacy in Lake Cowichan has a few tips she would like to add to this list.

“I would think the one thing that applies to a lot of people would be, if you’re taking medications that are, for instance, for things like sleep or pain, no alcohol at all with any of these, and that is a huge problem in the seniors population.”

Vanyo also strongly recommends bringing medications that are no longer being used into your local pharmacy.

“It’s not a good idea to keep medications around just in case.”

Another tip she provides is that of keeping medications in their original labeled bottles.

“Do not be putting one kind of pill in a different kind of bottle.”

One way to help make sure you are taking the right pill at the right time and on the right day, is to have your pharmacist package your prescription medicines into what is called blister packing.

“If there’s any confusion, or if you’re having trouble remembering what your pills are and what they’re for, get us to do a blister pack. Blister packing is a very good tool. I think this is preferable to using those seven day pill reminders,” said Vanyo.

Vanyo would also like to remind seniors to get their flu shots. The next date for flu shots is Nov. 6, at the Kaatza Public Health office and at Island Pharmacies. Phone Kaatza Health at 250-749-6878 for more information, or Island Pharmacy at 250-749-0149.

For more information on National Senior Safety Week, go to