April 7, 2020 by
A recent study of over 2,000 seniors reveals that an astounding 87% take at least one prescription drug, and a full 36% are taking five or more – in addition to 38% using over-the-counter meds on a regular basis. Managing senior medicine can be extremely challenging, and there are a number of risks and dangers that can arise in the process.
As experts in home care and independent living, At Home Independent Living’s caregiving team helps older adults ensure meds are taken when and how they’re prescribed. It’s also vitally important to be aware of common problems seniors encounter with their prescriptions, and how to overcome them. For instance:
Sometimes, symptoms continue despite taking medications correctly. Busy doctors may prescribe what’s known as a “starter dose” of a medication, which requires follow-up to determine if an adjustment is needed; but often, that follow-up never occurs. Be sure to schedule a subsequent visit with the doctor when a new senior medicine is prescribed, and ensure the senior keeps that visit.
Side effects can be worse than the condition being treated. Of particular concern are medications that impact a senior’s balance and thinking – increasing the chance of a fall or other dangerous consequences. Drugs to be especially vigilant about include anticholinergics, sedatives/tranquilizers, benzodiazepines, antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, and opiates. Talk with the doctor if any of these types of medications are prescribed for an older loved one and carefully weigh the potential risks against benefits.
Remaining compliant with medication adherence can be a challenge. Remembering that one particular med needs to be taken with food, while another on an empty stomach, another with a full glass of water, one before breakfast and two at bedtime, can make it extremely challenging to take prescriptions exactly when and how they’re prescribed. Enlist the services of a home care agency, such as At Home Independent Living, for medication reminders.
Cost can be prohibitive. When cost for a particular medication is high, seniors may be tempted to cut their dosage amounts to conserve cost – a highly risky behavior. Older adults can instead talk with their doctors about generic versions of medications, or other means to keep cost at a minimum.
Know about possible interactions with other meds. Bring a full list of all of the medications your loved one is taking to a doctor or pharmacist with expertise in polypharmacy, who can confirm that the drugs can safely be taken in tandem with each other. Be sure to include any over-the-counter medications taken routinely as well. For a quick online assessment, this drug interaction checker allows you to enter all of a senior’s medications and view any concerns, which can then be shared with his or her doctor.
Contact At Home Independent Living at (315) 579-HOME (4663) for more senior medicine management tips, and for professional hands-on assistance with medication reminders, transportation to doctors’ appointments, and much more to help those you love stay healthy and safe.