Question: Why does my doctor want me to bring all my medications to my scheduled wellness exam.

Answer: By reviewing all your medications – both prescription and over-the-counter drugs – your doctor can better work with you in preparing your personal health plan.

For most patients, a doctor’s medical file only lists prescribed medications and their proper dosages. But over-the-counter drugs like pain relievers, laxatives, cough and cold products, nutritional supplements and antacids may impact your current health. After reviewing your drugs, your doctor will speak with you about possible impacts of combining or deleting some of the drugs.

Accidentally combining drugs is not the only way in which patients misuse medications. Older adults sometimes intentionally decide not to take their drugs as prescribed. They may lower dosages after experiencing bad side-effects, or they may assume that higher dosages will speed relief. Some cease their medications once symptoms stop, while others cut dosages to save money.

Medicare, which wants to promote your ability to set up a personal health plan, now covers one wellness exam each year. For more information on ways to better communicate your medical questions and concerns, visit the National Institute of Aging at nia.nih.gov and, in the search box, type “Talking With Your Doctor.”