The days of “take two aspirin and call me in the morning” have transformed into “take two of these…and two of these…and maybe one of those, too!” Nearly 40% of seniors are taking at least five different prescription medications every day – not to mention vitamins, supplements, and OTC meds. It is easy to understand why overmedication and adverse medication reactions are extremely prevalent when it comes to senior medications.
Take these actions to prevent medication complications for a senior you love:
- Make a list, and check it twice. Create a list of all of the medications – both prescription and over-the-counter – that a senior loved one is currently taking. Share the list with all of the older adult’s healthcare providers, and supply updated lists whenever there is a change in medications. Then at least every six months, review the list with their primary care physician to confirm that all of the meds are essential and that current doses are ideal.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Make sure you understand fully what each medication is actually for, and confirm that there are no contraindications with other medications the individual is taking. A doctor or pharmacist can run the older adult’s meds through a drug interaction database to confirm. If you’re unsure about anything else associated with the medications prescribed, speak up. You’ll want to make certain you understand:
- What the potential side effects may be
- What to do if a dose is missed
- Whether a generic version is available
- Exactly when as well as how the meds must be taken (in other words, on a full stomach, with a glass of water, if they can be crushed or broken in half, etc.)
- And any other questions you may have
- Set up a system. As soon as you’ve confirmed that all the senior’s medications are necessary and you have the information and knowledge you need to ensure they’re taken correctly, create a system for following doctors’ orders. Depending on the older adult’s cognitive functioning, this can be as simple as a pill box that is filled weekly. Or you may want to count on the services of a home care provider, like Golden Harmony, for medication reminders.
It’s also important to bear in mind that a doctor should always be consulted before starting or changing any senior medications, including over-the-counter meds and vitamins. Some prescription medications are part of the same drug category as OTC meds, which could result in an excessive amount of a medication being administered. In other cases, vitamins or OTC medications interact negatively with prescriptions.
Our experts in care services in Raleigh and the neighboring areas are always available to help older adults continue to be healthy and safe. Contact us at 919-426-7522 for additional details on our in-home care services and how they can benefit a senior in your life.