Medication management is an important preventive measure to avoid potentially serious health hazards. Simple mistakes can become dangerous and even fatal. 87% of seniors take one prescription drug and 36% take 5 or more. If you or your loved one need extra help staying organized, there are plenty of tools and devices to keep you on track.
Regular use of five or more medications can pose a serious health risk to seniors. Nearly 350,000 patients each year are hospitalized for further treatment after emergency visits for adverse drug events. People typically take more medicines as they age, and this increases the risk of adverse drug events, which cause approximately 1.3 million emergency department visits each year.
Older adults tend to have multiple illnesses and therefore take more drugs and polypharmacy increases the risk of poor outcomes. The number of medications a person uses is a risk factor for adverse drug reactions, non-adherence, financial burden, drug-drug interactions, and worse outcomes, according to a study by Steinman MA.
Medications only work if taken consistently and as directed by your doctor. Medicines may stay in the body longer and cause side effects if doses are not properly adjusted. If you are forgetful or having trouble tracking your medications, a reminder system may be helpful. Those with a cognitive impairment may need to have their medications carefully managed and monitored.
HOW THIS CAN HELP SENIORS:
Grasp the dangers of medication mismanagement
Seniors typically don’t enjoy taking prescription and over-the-counter medications, which can result in changes in medication adherence. Understanding the potential extreme dangers of medication mismanagement is vital because even small changes in a drug regimen can have big health consequences.
Have a Chart or plan to make things easier
Having a large, easily visible and readable medication plan or chart, with alarm reminders, can greatly reduce the confusion of what medications were taken and when. reduces the pressures and stresses of keeping up with things in your head. Having a reliable family member or caregiver making check-ins is a great idea for those who cannot maintain a plan on their own.
Diversion can reduce stress and struggle
A method for dealing with someone who does not enjoy taking medication is “diversion.” Simply walk away and go back after a couple minutes. Start a conversation to get them reminiscing and talking. Then, while they are sharing and talking, just hand them the pills and a drink without saying anything. If it seems they’re going to focus on the pills, ask another question about what they were just discussing.
QUICK TIPS FOR ENSURING A SAFER HOME FOR SENIORS:
TIP #1 – Check thresholds. Raised flooring between rooms can be a significant trip hazard.
TIP #2 – Smart home devices. Benefit from medication reminders, landline-to-landline emergency calls, and access entertainment like audio books and music with smart home devices.
TIP #3 – Light the way. Use LED plug-ins to light common paths and easily locate light switches at night.
TIP #4 – Gather all medications, OTC meds and supplements in one location. If they are all stored in different locations, it is easy to lose track of what is being taken and when.