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 forty percent of older adults are taking at least five different prescription medications each day – not to mention vitamins, supplements, and OTC meds. It’s easy to understand why overmedication and adverse medication reactions are incredibly prevalent in seniors.
Take these steps to prevent medication complications for an older adult you love:
- Make a list, and check it twice. Create a list of all of the medications – both prescription and over-the-counter – that the senior loved one is currently taking. Share the list with all of the senior’s healthcare providers, and supply updated lists whenever there’s a change in medications. Then at the very least, every six months review the list along with their primary care physician to make sure that all of the medications are necessary and that current doses are optimal.
- Do not be afraid to ask questions. Make certain you completely understand what each medication is actually for, and confirm that there are not 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 confirm. If you’re unsure about anything else associated with the medications prescribed, speak up. You’ll want to make sure you have an understanding of:
- What the potential side effects can be
- What you should do if a dose is missed
- Whether a generic version is available
- Exactly when and how the meds must be taken (for example, on a full stomach, with a full glass of water, if they can 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 essential and you have the information you need to make sure they are taken correctly, create a system for following doctors’ orders. Depending on the older adult’s cognitive functioning, this may be as simple as a pill box that is filled weekly. Or you may choose to count on the services of a home care provider, like Home Sweet Home In-Home Care, trusted provider of respite care in Dowagiac, MI and the surrounding communities, for medication reminders.
It is additionally vital to be aware that a doctor should always be consulted before starting or changing any medications, including vitamins or over-the-counter meds. 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.