Seven Medication Management Tips to Ensure the Safety Seniors
The significance of managing medication cannot be overstated, particularly in terms of caring for seniors who usually take several medications simultaneously in order to treat various symptoms and conditions. This is called polypharmacy. Although we have become used to the idea of older people taking more drugs and vitamins every day, polypharmacy has possible health hazards that include dangerous drug interactions and overmedication.
Statistics show that 43% of men and 58% of women who are more than 65 years of age take at least five medications every week. Around 22% of both men and women take a minimum of ten medications every week. Additionally, as older adults metabolize medications differently, they tend to be more susceptible to potential harm from their medicines. A recent study disclosed that more than two-thirds of hospitalized seniors have an adverse medication effect over a period of four years.
Apart from taking care of seniors to avoid common medication mistakes like taking more than what are prescribed or taking medications incorrectly, a lot of seniors and caregivers depend on other sources of help in order to stay on track. Medication management devices such as pill dispensers, reminder services and pill organizers can be useful. But, responsible caregiver advocacy and being proactive on the medications to take are paramount. Below are some tips to remember.
- Ensure the Pharmacy Label Cites the Reason you are Taking the Prescription
This is necessary to make sure that seniors know what every medication is for and how they have to take it properly. Also, this can help caregivers monitor whether their senior loved one is being provided too many medicines for treating the same problem or whether a provider has prescribed a medication for a purpose it was not meant to treat.
- Make and Maintain an Updated List
You must make an accurate list of all drugs including brand and generic names, dosing frequency, dosages and reason for taking the medication.
Care Perfections Health Services LLC, a home health care center in Manassas VA, thinks that this is helpful in reducing the risk of polypharmacy.
- Take the List of Medication to the Doctor with You
Your list of prescription medications, herbal supplements or over the counter drugs you are taking must be brought to your doctor during your next visit or to a pharmacist. Giving your health care provider more information makes them more accurately pinpoint any possible drug interactions or adverse effects.
- Ask the Doctor or Pharmacy if the Dosage is Age Appropriate
Due to how the body metabolizes different medications as people age, elderly people can become vulnerable to a number of medicines and less sensitive to others. Also, they are more likely to experience adverse effects. You need to double check with your health care provider to make sure the dosage on the prescription is age-appropriate.
- Be Aware of Medicines that are Not Safe for Seniors
The American Geriatric Society put together a list of medications that aging people must use with caution or avoid. A number of medications pose a higher risk for interactions or side effects while others are less effective. For example, sedatives in the benzodiazepine category such as diazepam (Valium) belong to the “avoid for certain conditions” list as seniors may have more sensitivity to these drugs. It is imperative to ask your pharmacist if any of your medications or your loved one’s medications is included in the caution list.
- Be Aware of the Side Effect Profile of your Medicines
Knowing the possible interactions and side effects can help you in staying alert to health changes which can arise in response to a combination of medications or a new medication. In case you observe health changes, call your doctor immediately. A number of the side effects can mimic other health issues that include dementia so ensure you bring your medication list to each physician visit.
- Monitor Medication Compliance in those with Cognitive Impairment
When your loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or cognitive impairment or shows symptoms of confusion about his medication don’t let him take or manage his own medications. If he only has problem monitoring his medication, consider a reminder system.
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