June 10, 2022 by Dean Bellefeuille

senior lady reading medicine bottle

There was one point where you’d hear, “take two aspirin and call me in the morning.” But now, it’s more like, “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 each day – not to mention OTC meds, vitamins, and supplements. It’s not difficult to see how overmedication and adverse medication reactions have become such a common issue in seniors.

Take these steps to prevent a senior you love from complications of being overmedicated:

  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Take note of what each medication is for, and confirm that there are no contraindications with other medications the senior is taking. The doctor or pharmacist can run the senior’s meds through a drug interaction database to confirm. If you’re still not clear on anything about the medications prescribed, speak up. You’ll want to make sure you understand:
    • What to do if a dose is missed
    • What the potential side effects may be
    • Whether a generic version is available
    • Exactly when and how the meds should be taken (i.e., on a full stomach, with a full glass of water, if they can be crushed or broken in half, etc.)
    • And any other questions you may have
  • Set up a system. Once you’ve confirmed that all of the senior’s medications are necessary and you have the information you need to ensure they’re taken correctly, create a system for following doctors’ orders. Depending on the senior’s cognitive functioning, this may be as simple as a pill box that is filled weekly. Or you may want to rely on the services of a home care provider, like At Home Independent Living, for medication reminders.
  • Make a list, and check it twice. Create a list of all of the medications – both prescription and over-the-counter – that the senior is currently taking. Be sure that all of the senior’s healthcare providers have access to this list, and provide updated lists whenever there’s a change in medications. Then at least twice a year, review the list with their primary care physician to confirm that all of the meds are necessary and that current doses are optimal.

It’s also imperative that a doctor is consulted before starting or changing any medications, including over-the-counter meds and vitamins. Some prescription medications belong to the same drug category as OTC meds, which could lead to too much of a medication being administered. In other cases, vitamins or OTC medications interact negatively with prescriptions.

We’re always here to help seniors stay healthy and safe, and we can help them avoid becoming overmedicated. Contact us to learn more about our in-home care services and how they can benefit an older adult in your life.