A recent research study of over 2,000 older adults reveals that a stunning 87% take one or more prescription drugs, and a full 36% are taking five or more – as well as 38% using over-the-counter meds on a regular basis. Managing these medications in our later years can be very challenging, and there are certain risks and dangers inherent to senior medication that can emerge during the process.
As specialists in aging care, Midnight Sun’s Palmer home health caregiving team assists senior loved ones in making sure meds are taken when and exactly how they are prescribed. It’s also imperative to understand common issues seniors experience with using their prescriptions, and how to overcome them. For example:
Sometimes, signs or symptoms continue despite taking medications correctly. Busy physicians may prescribe what is known as a “starter dose” of a medication, which will require follow-up to figure out if modification is required; but oftentimes, that follow-up never occurs. Make sure to schedule a subsequent visit with the doctor when a brand new medication is prescribed, and ensure the senior keeps that appointment.
Adverse reactions could very well be more severe than the condition being treated. Of particular concern are medications that impact a senior’s balance and thinking – escalating the chance of a fall or some other dangerous consequence. Drugs to be particularly vigilant about include anticholinergics, sedatives/tranquilizers, benzodiazepines, antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, and opiates. Consult with the doctor if any of these medications are prescribed for an older loved one and cautiously weigh the potential risks against benefits.
Remaining compliant with medication adherence may be a struggle. 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, makes it tremendously difficult to take prescriptions exactly when and how they’re prescribed. Enlist the services of a home care agency, like Midnight Sun Home Care of Anchorage, for medication reminders.
Cost may be prohibitive. When cost for a particular prescription is high, seniors can be tempted to reduce their dosage amounts to conserve cost – an extremely risky behavior. Seniors can instead speak with their doctors about generic versions of medications, or any other methods to keep cost at a minimum.
Be informed about potential interactions with other meds. Bring a complete list of every one of the medications the senior is taking to a doctor or pharmacist with knowledge in polypharmacy, who is able to confirm that the drugs can safely be taken in conjunction with each other. Make sure to include any over-the-counter medications taken regularly as well. For a quick online evaluation, this drug interaction checker enables you to enter each of a senior’s medications and view any concerns that can then be discussed with his / her physician.
Contact our experts in Palmer home health at Midnight Sun Home Care at (907) 677-7890 for more medication management tips, as well as for professional hands-on assistance with medication reminders, transportation to doctors’ appointments, and much more to assist those you love in staying healthy and safe.