If you’re caring for a parent or a senior, there will come a time when you will have to become involved in managing their medication. When the opportunity arises, check the medicine cabinet or drawer where they keep their medications. Are there any duplicate bottles of drugs with some missing while other bottles of the same medicine are full? This is a sign that medications are not being taken as prescribed but prescriptions are just being refilled. Do any bottles have a mixture of medications? This is dangerous because some medications may interact with each other before they’re even consumed. Are there any bottles of expired medications? Are there any unlabeled containers or baggies with a jelly bean assortment of drugs in them? These are all warning signs that it’s time for you to become involved in managing your loved one’s medications.
This is a particularly important issue for seniors because seniors over 65 are responsible for the purchase of 30% of all prescription drugs and over 40% of all over the counter drugs. They typically deal with multiple chronic conditions that result in taking several medications often prescribed in multiple doses. Studies have shown that between 40% and 75% of seniors fail to take their medications at the right dosage and on the prescribed schedule.
The first and most important step to take to successfully manage the medications is to make a list of every drug your senior consumes. This includes prescription drugs, over the counter medications, and any vitamins and herbal supplements. This list needs to be taken to the doctor every time the senior goes to the doctor. It needs to be reviewed by the doctor and the pharmacist for any possible interactions or side effects like dizziness or lightheadedness. Check the labels of the medication bottles. Are any of the same drugs found in several medications? For example, many over the counter medications for colds and sinus problems contain acetaminophen which is the drug in Tylenol. If your loved one uses both at the same time, they’re doubling up on medications. That can be dangerous. Check with the doctor whether a prescribed drug continues to be needed and don’t make any changes or adjustments on your own. Be sure to let the doctor know if you notice any medication affecting your senior in some new or unsafe manner.
Use the same pharmacy for all prescriptions so their computer system can check for possible drug interactions and open the bag the prescription comes in right there at the pharmacy before you go home. According to the University of Connecticut School of Pharmacy, up to 5% of filled prescriptions involve some sort of error. Make sure the name on the prescription bottle matches the name on the bag. If the pills look different from what you’re used to, talk to the pharmacist. Don’t pass up the counseling from the pharmacist. You need to be clear on how the drug should be taken, for how long it should be taken, and what side effects may be expected. If your senior has multiple medications, a divided pill box can serve to remind them of what to take and when to take it. Following these steps will help you manage your senior’s medication and make sure they get the right medications at the right time and in the right amount. Share your experiences below and visit us at http://www.trilliumhomecare.com
When you are younger and in need of medication for an illness or injury, things are pretty simple. You go to the doctor, get a diagnosis, fill your prescription, and a few days later you’re feeling better. If you get a headache or pull a muscle at the gym, you pick up some over-the-counter analgesics and in a bit you’re back to your busy life good as new. It never occurs to you to monitor what you’re taking because you’re not taking a lot of medications with a lot of frequency. That changes as you reach your senior years. As you get older, it’s typical to be dealing with more than one chronic condition resulting in taking multiple medications which are very often prescribed in multiple doses. In fact, the average older person takes at least four prescription medications and at least two over-the-counter drugs on a regular basis. Seniors over 65 are responsible for the purchase of 30% of all prescription drugs and over 40% of all over-the-counter drugs. You can see where this is going. As you get older or someone you care for enters their senior years, it becomes increasingly important to manage medications.
Seniors are particularly vulnerable to problems with medications for a variety of reasons. The more medications are taken, the greater the odds are that they may have an interaction that could be dangerous if not unpleasant. It’s not uncommon for a senior to simply stop taking a medication because of its side effects. Between 40% and 75% of seniors stop taking their medications at the right dosage and the right schedule. This issue is compounded by the fact that older adults are more sensitive to drugs because of their now slower metabolisms and organ functions, thus keeping drugs in their system for longer periods of time. Physical problems such as poor vision or a weak grip due to arthritis can result in dosing errors. Cognitive and memory issues can prevent the older adult from following the doctor’s orders and since so many seniors live alone there’s no one to assist them with nor monitor their use of drugs. Simply forgetting is a major reason medication doses are skipped by the elderly. With an increased number of chronic conditions the typical older adult sees a number of different physicians — the endocrinologist for their thyroid, the cardiologist for their heart problems, and so on. Multiple doctors equal multiple medications that can conflict with each other. You can see why studies have shown that any combination of these factors causes 30% of hospital admissions of older adults. It’s apparent that being able to manage an older adult’s medications is critical to their well being and even their ability to remain independently in their own home. Next time we’ll talk about which medications to be especially cautious about and what action you can take to help keep your senior safe with their medication. Visit us at www.trilliumhomecare.com
If you’re caring for a senior, you should do a drug inventory of their medications a couple of times a year. Even if they are completely capable of taking their own medications as prescribed, this is still a good idea. In fact, it’s something you should do for yourself also. There’s more to taking medications than just popping the pills and washing them down with a glass of water.
First of all, check where the medications are being stored. It’s very common to keep prescription bottles out so that seeing them serves as a reminder to take them. Often this means the drugs are stored on the bathroom counter or in the bathroom medicine chest. Both of these locations are not good for maintaining the quality of the medicine. The heat and humidity can cause the medicines to degrade. Save the medicine chest for storing medical supplies like bandages and cotton balls. Another favorite spot is on the kitchen counter or windowsill . That seems to make sense since that’s where you’d go to get that glass of water to wash them down. If that part of the counter is anywhere near the stove or any other appliance that gives off heat, you’ve got the same problem — heat and humidity. In addition, it’s never a good idea to leave any prescription drugs out in the open where someone else may get easy access to them. Your best bet is to keep all your medications in ONE location, such as in a dresser drawer or kitchen cabinet.
Other precautions you need to take are: If you use one of those handy automatic pill dispensers or organizers with compartments for each day, keep the remaining drugs in their original bottles. The amber or white plastic serves to keep light out. The labels provide important information like dosage, expiration date, and the number of the pharmacy to call for refills. Never leave a new prescription in the car. Locked cars can get very hot and affect the quality of the medications. If the prescription bottle has a cotton plug in it, remove it. The cotton can draw moisture into the container. Make sure to check the expiration date of the prescriptions so that you’re taking something that will do it’s job. Don’t share any prescription drugs with anyone else. Something that worked for you may be deadly for someone else. If you notice any physical change in the medicine’s color, odor, or texture, do not use it even if it hasn’t expired. After the inventory, dispose of the old medications responsibly. Do not flush them down the toilet where they will get into the water system. The easiest thing to do is crush them up, mix in some coffee grounds or kitty litter, and pour them into a small plastic bag. Add a little water to make a gooey mess and put the bag in the trash. What are you doing to stay safe with medications? Share below and visit us at http://www.trilliumhomecare.com
Nowadays seniors are living longer in great part due to medications that have been developed to control their health problems. It’s these same medications that can be a cause of concern for both the seniors and their caregivers. Typically, seniors over 65 take at least five different medications per day. This greatly increases the odds that things can go wrong.
*As they get older, seniors see several physicians and specialists. They also tend to shop around for and use more than one pharmacy in an effort to pay less for their medications. Both of these factors increase the risk for dangerous drug interactions. One physician may not know what another physician has prescribed and one pharmacy won’t know what has already been dispensed at another pharmacy.
* Seniors often have memory problems as they age. They can easily forget the instructions for taking their medication. The resulting problems can range from taking their prescribed drugs too often to skipping them altogether.
*Problems with hearing can cause your loved one to misunderstand the doctor’s or pharmacist’s directions for taking the prescribed medication.
*As seniors age, their bodies tend to respond differently to medication. Medications build up in their systems more easily and take a longer time to be eliminated. Not taking the medications exactly as prescribed can cause dangerous over or under dosing. In addition, seniors are more sensitive to the effects of drugs so the dosage needs to be carefully monitored.
* Some seniors may have financial problems and may not refill their prescription as necessary or may cut their pills in half to make them last longer.
The presence of any of these issues with your loved one makes it very important to have medications dispensed and taken as directed by the physician. Have you noticed other things that affect your senior and their medications? Share below. Don’t forget to visit us at: http://www.trilliumhomecare.com
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