A current research study of more than 2,000 older adults finds that a stunning 87% take a minimum of one prescription drug, and a full 36% are taking five or more – and as many as 38% are using over-the-counter meds on a frequent basis as well. Managing medication for seniors can be very difficult, and there are a number of risks and dangers that can come about during the process.
As specialists in home care assistance in Atlanta, our caregiving team assists older adults in making sure meds are taken when and exactly how they are prescribed. It is also imperative to understand common issues seniors encounter with regards to prescriptions, and how to conquer them. For instance:
Occasionally, signs or symptoms continue in spite of taking medications correctly. Busy physicians may prescribe what is known as a “starter dose” of a medication, which calls for follow-up to decide if adjustment is required; but oftentimes, that follow-up never occurs. Be sure to schedule a subsequent visit with the doctor when a new medication is prescribed, and ensure the senior keeps that visit.
Side effects may be even more serious than the condition being treated. Of specific concern are medications that impact a senior’s balance and thinking – escalating the chance of a fall or other high risk consequences. Drugs to be particularly vigilant about include anticholinergics, sedatives/tranquilizers, benzodiazepines, antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, and opiates. Speak with the doctor if any of these medications are prescribed for an older family member and cautiously weigh the possible risks against benefits.
Staying compliant with medication adherence may be a challenge. Remembering that one certain med needs to be taken with food, while another on an empty stomach, another with a full glass of water, one before breakfast and two at bedtime, can make it enormously challenging to take prescriptions exactly when and how they’re prescribed. Engage the services of a home care agency, like Atlanta Home Care Partners, for medication reminders.
Cost may be prohibitive. When cost for a specific senior medicine is high, older adults may well be inclined to reduce their dosage amounts to conserve cost – a very risky behavior. Older adults can instead speak with their physicians about generic versions of medications, or other methods to keep cost at a minimum.
Be informed about likely interactions with other meds. Bring a complete list of all the medications the senior is taking to a physician or pharmacist with training in polypharmacy, who is able to make sure the drugs can safely be taken in conjunction with one another. Make sure to include any over-the-counter medications taken routinely as well. For a quick online evaluation, this drug interaction checker lets you enter all of a senior’s medications and view any concerns that can then be discussed with his or her physician.
Contact Atlanta Home Care Partners at (404) 228-0103 for more senior medicine management tips, as well as professional hands-on assistance with medication reminders, transportation to doctors’ appointments, and much more to help seniors stay healthy and safe.