The days of “take two aspirin and call me in the morning” have morphed into “take two of these…and two of these…and perhaps one of those, too!” Nearly 40% of older adults are taking at least five different prescription medications every day – not to mention OTC meds, vitamins, and supplements. It’s easy to see why seniors are overmedicated and at higher risk for adverse medication reactions.
Take these steps to prevent medication problems for an older adult you love:
- Make a list, and check it twice. Create a list of all the medications – both over-the-counter and prescription – that the senior loved one is currently taking. Share the list with all of the older adult’s healthcare providers, 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 make sure that all of the medications are needed and that current doses are optimal.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Make sure you understand fully what each medication is actually for, and confirm that there aren’t any contraindications with other medications a senior loved one is taking. The doctor or pharmacist can run the senior’s meds through a drug interaction database to verify. If you’re unclear about anything else related to the medications prescribed, speak up. You will want to be sure you understand:
- How to handle if a dose is missed
- What the potential side effects can be
- Whether a generic version is available
- Exactly when and how the meds should be taken (in other words, on a full stomach, with a full glass of water, if they should be broken in half or crushed, etc.)
- And any other questions you may have
- Set up a system. When you’ve confirmed that all the older adult’s medications are necessary and you have the information you need to ensure they are 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 might want to count on the services of a home care provider, like Serenity Home Care, for medication reminders to avoid a senior being overmedicated.
It is also vital to bear in mind that a physician should always be consulted prior to starting or changing any medications, including vitamins or over-the-counter meds. Some prescription medications belong to the same drug category as OTC meds, which could result in an excessive amount of a medication being administered. In other cases, OTC medications or vitamins interact negatively with prescriptions.
We’re always here to help older adults stay healthy and safe. Email or call us at 250-590-8098 for additional details on our in-home care services, including live-in caregivers in Victoria, BC, and exactly how they can benefit a senior in your life. For a full list of all of the communities where we provide our award-winning care, please visit our Service Area page.