A recently available study of over 2,000 older adults reveals that an astonishing 87% take a minimum of one prescription drug, and a staggering 36% are taking five or more – together with 38% using over-the-counter meds on an everyday basis. Managing these medications in our older years can be extremely difficult, and there are a number of risks and dangers which can occur in the process.
As specialists in home care in Pinellas County, Generations at Home’s caregiving team helps seniors ensure meds are taken when and exactly how they are prescribed. It is also vitally important to be familiar with common problems older adults encounter with using their prescriptions, and how to overcome them. For example:
In some cases, signs or symptoms continue in spite of taking medications properly. Busy doctors may prescribe what’s known as a “starter dose” of a medication, which will require follow-up to determine if adjustment is needed; but oftentimes, that follow-up never occurs. Make sure to schedule a subsequent visit with the physician when a new medication is prescribed, and ensure the senior keeps that visit.
Adverse reactions could very well be even more serious than the condition being treated. Of particular issue are medications that impact a senior’s balance and thinking – escalating the likelihood of a fall or other dangerous consequences. Prescriptions to be especially on guard about consist of anticholinergics, sedatives/tranquilizers, benzodiazepines, antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, and opiates. Speak with your physician if any of these medications are prescribed for an older relative and cautiously weigh the potential risks against benefits.
Staying compliant with medication adherence can be a challenge. Remembering that one specific 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 tremendously challenging to take prescriptions exactly when and how they’re prescribed. Enlist the services of a home care agency, such as Generations at Home, for medication reminders.
Cost may be prohibitive. When cost for a particular prescription is high, older adults may well be inclined to cut their dosage amounts to conserve cost – a very risky behavior. Seniors can instead consult with their physicians about generic versions of medications, or any other ways to keep cost at a minimum.
Be informed on potential interactions with other meds. Bring the full listing of all of the medications a senior loved one is taking to a health care provider or pharmacist with expertise in polypharmacy, who is able to make sure the drugs can safely be taken in combination with each other. Remember to include any over-the-counter medications taken routinely as well. For a quick online assessment, this drug interaction checker lets you enter all of a senior’s medications and view any concerns that may then be discussed with his / her health care provider.
Contact Generations at Home in Pinellas County at 727-940-3414 to get more medication management tips, as well as professional hands-on help with medication reminders, transportation to doctors’ appointments, and much more to assist those you love in staying healthy and safe.