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Always ask why your doctor why you’re taking any specific drug

No surprise to anyone who’s of the right age (Full disclosure: Me, of course).

A recent American study concluded that if you’re a senior, chances are great that you’re on at least one unnecessary drug, and many seniors are on two or more such meds.

The most likely drugs to be inappropriately prescribed, according to this study, include the usual cast of culprits that are constantly in the news for causing a bevy of serious side effects and complications (some of which are only discovered years after the drugs have been on the market) such as antipsychotics, benzodiazepines like diazepam (Valium), nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and proton pump inhibitors.

What’s so interesting about that list of potential bad guys is that they are nearly always prescribed for symptoms, and the curious but crucial thing about symptoms is that symptoms are unlikely to kill you and symptoms are often treatable with non-pharmaceutical measures.

Now, it has to be said upfront that this is an American study and American doctors are generally thought to be much more willing to prescribe meds than doctors in other countries.

But to be honest, it’s probably not that different here in Canada, so whenever you’re prescribed a medication, either a new one that you’ve never taken or even a repeat of one you’ve been on for a while, if you’re a senior, actually, even if you’re not a senior, always make sure to ask the doctor why, why, why?

Why do you really need this particular drug?

Why isn’t there something else you can do to improve that problem?