University of Massachusetts Amherst

It's MORE Than A Meal


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medicines and older adults

Translations of Fact Sheet

Most older adults take medicines. This includes over-the-counter and prescription drugs. Learn how to take them in a way that promotes good health.

the food-medicine connection

Food and medicines play a role in good health. But when taken together, they may affect each other.

Medicines May Affect Food Intake.

  • Medicines may affect the appetite.
  • Medicines may change the taste or smell of foods.
  • Medicines may cause nausea or vomiting.
  • Some medicines should be taken on an empty stomach. Others should be taken with food.
  • It may be harmful to drink alcohol while taking some medicines.

Foods May Affect How Medicines Work.

  • Some foods affect the way the body uses medicines.
  • Some foods may have bad effects when combined with certain medicines.

ask your health care provider for specific advice

Take medicines as prescribed.

Ask your doctor or pharmacist:

  • What time of day to take the medicines.
  • If you should stop eating any foods when taking them.
  • If you need any nutrient supplements while taking medicines.
  • What possible side effects to expect.
  • If the dose of long-term drugs should be adjusted over time.

Tell the doctor and pharmacist about:

  • All the medicines that you take (over-the counter and prescription drugs).
  • Any dietary supplements that you take.
  • Any symptoms that you have after eating certain foods.

Have your medicines put in large bottles that are easy to open.

Make sure the labels are easy to read.

for more information

Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
Medications and Older People

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Developed for the Massachusetts Department of Education Child and Adult Care Food Program by the University of Massachusetts Extension Nutrition Education Program. Permission is hereby granted by the Massachusetts Department of Education to copy any or all parts of this document for non-commercial educational purposes. The Massachusetts Department of Education, an Affirmative Action employer, is committed to ensuring that all of its programs and facilities are accessible to all members of the public. We do not discriminate on the basis of age, color, disability, national origin, race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation.