June 15, 2022
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 40% of seniors are taking at least five different prescription medications every day – not to mention OTC meds, vitamins, and supplements. It is easy to see why overmedication and adverse medication reactions are so common in older adults.
Take these steps to prevent medication problems for an older adult you love:
- Make a list, and check it twice. Create a list of all the medications – both prescription and over-the-counter – that the older adult is currently taking. Share the list with all the senior’s healthcare providers, and supply updated lists whenever there is a change in medications. Then at least every six months, review the list along with their primary care physician to confirm 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 make sure there aren’t any contraindications with other medications the person is taking. A doctor or pharmacist can run the older adult’s meds through a drug interaction database to verify. If you are unsure about anything else pertaining to the medications prescribed, speak up. You’ll want to make sure you have an understanding of:
- Whether a generic version is available
- What to do if a dose is missed
- What the potential side effects can be
- Exactly when as well as how the meds must be taken (for example, on a full stomach, with a full glass of water, if they can be crushed or broken in half, etc.)
- And any other questions you might have
- Set up a system. When you’ve confirmed that all the older adult’s medications are necessary and you have the information and knowledge 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 might be as simple as a pill box that is filled weekly. Or you might want to count on the services of Continuum, a trusted provider of senior home care in Clayton and the surrounding areas, for medication reminders.
To prevent a senior loved one from becoming overmedicated, it is additionally vital to bear in mind that a doctor should always be consulted prior to starting or changing any medications, including vitamins or over-the-counter meds. Some prescription medications are part of the same drug category as OTC meds, which could lead to an excessive amount of a medication being administered. In other cases, OTC medications or vitamins interact negatively with prescriptions.