The days of “take two aspirin and call me in the morning” have transformed into “take two of these…and two of these…and maybe 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 is easy to see why problems are so prevalent when it comes to senior medications.
Take these actions to prevent medication complications for a senior you love:
- Make a list, and check it twice. Create a list of every one of the medications – both prescription and over-the-counter – that a senior loved one is currently taking. Share the list with all the older adult's healthcare providers, and provide updated lists whenever there is a change in medications. Then at a minimum of every six months, review the list with their primary care physician to verify that all of the meds are necessary and that current doses are ideal.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Ensure you fully understand what each medication is for, and confirm that there are no contraindications with other medications the individual is taking. A doctor or pharmacist can run the senior’s meds through a drug interaction database to confirm. If you are unsure about anything else related to the medications prescribed, speak up. You’ll want to make certain you have an understanding of:
- What the potential side effects can be
- How to proceed if a dose is missed
- Whether a generic version is available
- Exactly when and how the meds should be taken (for example, on a full stomach, with a glass of water, if they should be crushed or broken in half, etc.)
- And any other questions you might have
- Set up a system. Once you’ve confirmed that all the senior’s medications are necessary and you have the details you need to make sure they are taken correctly, create a system for following physicians' orders. Depending on the older adult's cognitive functioning, this may be as simple as a pill box that is filled weekly. Or you might want to count on the services of a home care provider, like Amy’s Helping Hands, for medication reminders.
It's also important to bear in mind that a doctor should always be consulted prior to starting or changing any senior 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.
As the top provider of senior care in Windsor, Ontario and the surrounding areas, we’re always available to help older adults stay healthy and safe. Contact us at 519-915-4370 for more information about our in-home care services and exactly how they can benefit a loved one in your life.