As we age, we become more prone to health issues which in turn, leads to an increase in our medications. Unfortunately, older adults find it difficult to maintain and manage a medication list and end up forgetting to take the required dosage on time. If you are a family caregiver and have a senior loved one at home, you would understand how critical it is for an older adult to take only prescribed medications, exactly as prescribed and also confirm with the physician that there won’t be any potentially dangerous drug interactions and complications.
The challenge that is medication management for seniors is a part of the larger discourse on elderly care. Failure to manage medications may also lead to polypharmacy or overmedication which can be harmful. Various drugs, vitamins, and supplements are commonly used by older adults to treat various symptoms and health problems, which raises the likelihood of drug mix-ups. Such simple errors can become dangerous and even fatal in some cases.
Seniors are the main consumers of prescription drugs, but as they grow older, they’re more prone to side effects from the medicines they’re taking. Managing medications correctly is key to an independent life. To help you and your senior loved one avoid possible medication complications, we have curated a list of extremely useful medication management tips. Take a look!
1. Set Regular Reminders
Forgetting to take prescribed medication may have a detrimental effect on how the body works and make you more vulnerable to illness. Set an alarm to alert you, or ask a friend or family member to do it for you. Keep track of prescription refill dates by making a list, developing a calendar and reminder system, or get into the habit of taking your medication at the same time every day to help you remember.
2. Put All Medications and Supplements in the Same Place
It’s easy to lose track of the prescription medicine, vitamins, over-the-counter medication, or supplements you’re taking if they’re all kept in different places. Some seniors, for example, might keep certain pills in the kitchen, others on their nightstand, and still others in the bathroom medicine cabinet. Over-the-counter drugs should also be included because they can also cause harmful drug reactions when taken with prescription medications. Having all in one place is a good habit to maintain. You’ll be able to see precisely what’s been used, ensure that identical prescriptions aren’t being written for the same health issue, and know when to discard expired drugs.
3. Keep a Detailed List
Although your doctor should be aware of all of the drugs you have already been administered for some time, it’s best to keep your own comprehensive list of which medications you have been prescribed, including prescriptions, vitamins, over-the-counter medications, and herbal supplements. This not only keeps you from taking drugs that have harmful interactions, but it also gives you and your doctor a more accurate image of your treatment. Make sure you have adequate information about the medication’s purposes and any side effects that you encounter, as well as when and if they go away, on your chart.
4. Stick to One Pharmacy
Older adults or their caregivers need to inform their physicians of all the prescription and over-the-counter medications they are taking. However, accidents do happen and pharmacies have an extra layer of protection against harmful drug interactions. When seniors visit the same pharmacy on a daily basis, pharmacists become better acquainted with their drug regimens. Many pharmacies also keep digital records that give reminders when a senior is prescribed a drug that can’t be mixed with another on their list.
5. Make Frequent Visits to the Doctor
The demands of healthcare are continuously changing. It’s quite likely that your symptoms have improved and you don’t need to take a certain medicine any longer. Alternatively, the prescribed medicine may not be successful, necessitating the search for an alternative. As you age, it’s more important than ever to see your doctor and for family caregivers to take the elderly loved one to the doctor on a regular, more frequent basis to discuss any questions you may have and to keep your prescription list up to date.