Published on October 24, 2018

Can you safely take fewer medications?

You might be able to cut back—With your doctor’s OK

senior with pillsAs we get older, our health problems tend to increase. Because of that, we often need to take a lot of medications.

It can be a challenge to manage multiple medications, and the more medications we take, the greater our risk of side effects. Which is why we may sometimes wish we could stop taking at least some of our medications.

“I think most of us would prefer to be on fewer medicines if we could,” says Donna Raziano, MD, Chief Medical Officer at Mercy LIFE – West Philadelphia.

If you feel that way, know this: You might be able to cut back on the number of medications you take—with your doctor’s help. Here are some possible ways:

Know what meds you must take. Some of your medications may be absolutely critical to your health, but there may be some drugs you could stop taking.

Review a list of your medicines with your doctor. Don’t be afraid to ask if you really need to take all of them.

“You’re not going to upset your doctor,” Dr. Raziano says. “He or she would rather you ask than have you cut back on a medication or stop taking it without talking to your provider first.”

Watch your weight and be active. If you control your weight and exercise, you may be able to cut back on multiple medications for one condition, such as those for high blood pressure or diabetes. Talk to your doctor about the best ways for you to safely shed pounds.