Many seniors take several medications to help maintain their health. Some of these medications may contain essential daily vitamins while others can assist in treating current health conditions (such as diabetes or Parkinson’s disease). Other medicines may be prescribed to alleviate pain after a major surgery or to help an individual recover from illness It is vitally important to manage all these medications effectively and ensure that seniors are taking the proper dosage at the correct times.
Dangers of Medication Mismanagement
As we get older, memory impairment can sometimes occur. This can make it difficult to remember the exact instructions for medications, especially if an individual is taking multiple medicines at a time. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, over 20% of U.S. adults aged 40 and older take five or more prescription drugs. As a result, it can be easy to forget to take a medication, or even to confuse one with another, which could cause damaging physical effects.
Taking medications incorrectly can result in the following:
- Allergic Reactions
- Breathing Difficulties
- Nutrient Deficiencies
- Decreased Awareness of Your Surroundings
Whether you are the one caring for your aging loved one or you employ a professional caregiver, the following tips can assist you in safely managing their medications.
Medication Reminders for Seniors
Take Prescriptions for The Correct Amount of Time. If your senior loved one has been prescribed a medication and their symptoms seem to have improved, it may be tempting to stop taking the medicine altogether. However, if they stop taking medication too early, it could be detrimental to their health. In order to remain safe, take medication for the exact duration that their doctor recommends. If your loved one has been instructed to take the medicine only “as needed,” conduct a quick check-in with their healthcare provider to make sure it is okay to stop.
Organize Medications. Keeping medications organized can be a life-saving measure. There are several tools you can use to help keep track of medicines. Try using a pill organizer or timer to help you remember which days and times your loved one requires medication. There are many different types of pill organizers ranging from simple storage compartments to boxes with visual alerts that remind you when it’s time to take medicine. Automatic pill dispensers can also be an excellent resource to help seniors manage their medication. It is an electronic device that is lockable, so the individual only has access to their medication at the scheduled time. The device will dispense the correct amount of medication and trigger an alarm at the specific time the medicine needs to be taken.
Turn On the Lights. Make sure the environment is properly lit whenever you are helping to administer medication. Taking medicine in poor lighting or a dark room can increase a senior’s likelihood of taking the wrong dose.
Make Sure You Understand All Prescription Instructions. In order to avoid negative side effects, it is crucial to understand the doctor’s instructions. For example, some medicines need to be taken with food and some need to be taken on an empty stomach. Make sure you note any important details for each medication. Writing these details in a journal or medication schedule document for the older adult in your care may also be helpful.
Store Medication Properly. Help your senior loved one find an appropriate place to keep their medicine. Ideally, you will be able to store all medications in one place. Make sure you keep medications in a cool, dry place where pets or children cannot access them.To learn more about how we can assist you or your loved one with medication management, please call your local Homewatch CareGivers location today.