Mistakes with medications send an estimated 700,000 older adults to the emergency department of a hospital each year, according to the Institute of Medicine. It is easy to understand why. 30% of seniors take five or more prescription medicines each day. 90% of adults over the age of 60 take at least one. Staying on track while juggling so many different medications can be a challenge.
Tips to Help Central Ohio Seniors Safely Manage their Medicine
Here are a few steps you can take to keep a senior loved one safe:
- Utilize Technology: There are a variety of tools and technologies that make managing medications easier. From Text4Health programs to products like MedMinder that work off cellular technology, there are systems available to help keep your senior loved one safe.
- Dispose of Old Meds: Another important tip is to quickly dispose of old medications and keep the medicine cabinet free for only those currently prescribed. Doing so can help prevent an older adult from accidentally taking the wrong medication or a previously prescribed dose of a current one. These tips from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will assist you in figuring out how to safely dispose of them.
- Keep a Current Medication List: Maintaining a list of medications –both prescription and over-the-counter ones – is almost critical. Update it with every change their physician makes. Keep a copy in your purse and have your senior also keep one in their purse or wallet. Be sure to share the most recent list with all of their health care providers at each appointment.
- Review Potential Side Effects: Because older adults metabolize medications differently than younger ones, it puts them at a much higher risk for adverse effects and even potential overdose. Take time to review the side effects and warnings before your senior family member begins taking any new prescription or over-the-counter medication.
- Clear Labels: If your aging loved one takes their medication directly from the bottle and not from a pill box, make sure the label can be easily read. Most pharmacies offer large print labels to help keep seniors safe. If they are using a daily pillbox system, be sure to provide clearly written directions on which medications to take and at what times of day to take them.
Tip from the Expert
“One of the most important aspects in helping patients understand and manage their medications is developing a relationship with them. It is crucial to earn a patient’s trust so that you can become part of their healthcare team. Seniors sometimes take quite a few medications so it helpful to make sure they are keeping track of each medication and what it is used for. I also make sure I make them aware of specific drug interactions as well as interactions with over the counter medications. Patients also need to make sure they get rid of medication they are no longer taking so they do not confuse with a new one. The same can be said to not combine different medications in one bottle.” -Jennifer Peters, PharmD, RPH
If you would like to learn more, Medication Safety for the Elderly: A Guide for Patients and Caregivers is a free download that may be of interest.
For other questions regarding how your senior can better manage their medication, please give us a call at 614.345.9500 or contact us today.