More than 80 percent of seniors are prescribed at least one medication, according to the University of Michigan Health System. Add in supplements and over-the-counter medications, and the list can get long. Organizing medication information and assisting in medication management is key to keeping the senior you care for as healthy as possible.
In many cases, older adults struggle to manage their medications on their own, with dire consequences. Doubling or skipping a dose can be especially dangerous.
Research conducted by the American Geriatrics Society shows that more than a third of seniors have a health issue caused by medication mismanagement each year. In fact, reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that seniors are twice as likely to go to the emergency room for an adverse medication event and seven times more likely to be hospitalized following their emergency room visit than are younger generations.
Many seniors need assistance organizing their medication information and managing daily dosages. A study published in Drugs & Aging even shows that 23 percent of seniors who move into a nursing home do so because they cannot manage their medication schedule on their own.
Adverse Drug Reactions
Because they have more health issues, seniors are often on more prescription drugs than other age groups. This greatly increases their risk for mix-ups or side effects. At the same time, new prescription medications are introduced almost every day. With every new drug on the market, the potential for dangerous interactions increases.
Interactions can occur even if your loved one is only taking one prescription drug. Some medications can cause a reaction if taken with certain foods or with supplements. Knowing as much as you can about your loved one’s medications and discussing each prescription with the doctor and pharmacist can help reduce the chances of an adverse reaction in your family member.
In Case of Emergency
In an emergency, first responders and emergency room personnel will need to know every medication your loved one is taking. You can’t count on your memory at that point. You may not be there, or you may be too worried to remember.
This is why it’s vital to keep an updated list of your loved one’s medications. By having the medication information organized and in an easy-to-find location, you can ensure every healthcare provider who treats him has all the information necessary to provide the best treatment.
You not only serve as the caregiver for your loved one, but you also have your own life. You simply don’t have hours to spend each week on organizing medication information and sorting pills. Here are some of the keys to simplifying medication management:
- Keep a comprehensive list of all prescription and nonprescription medications and supplements. Include how the pills look, what they’re for, dosage, and any previous reactions.
- Discuss all current prescriptions with the doctor before any changes are made in order to reduce the possibility of interactions.
- Fill prescriptions at only one pharmacy.
- Consider an automatic pill dispenser to help manage the daily medication schedule.
Understanding and managing medication information is vital to keeping your loved one healthy. The doctor or your pharmacist are great resources for learning about each prescription and the advantages and risks of each medication. There are also a number of tools such as list templates and automatic pill dispensers available that help take the stress out of medication management.