April 6, 2020

Senior man sitting and looking at his medication despondantly

Seniors and medications: know the details to help keep them safe and compliant.

A recent study of over 2,000 older adults reveals that an astonishing 87% take one or more prescription drugs, and a full 36% are taking 5 or more – as well as 38% using over-the-counter meds on a regular basis. Managing medications for seniors can be very daunting, and there are a number of risks and dangers that can develop in the process.

As experts in aging care, Continuum’s caregiving team helps senior loved ones in making sure meds are taken when and exactly how they are prescribed. It’s also imperative to be familiar with common problems seniors encounter with regards to prescriptions, and how to overcome them. For example:

Occasionally, signs and symptoms continue regardless of taking medications correctly. Busy physicians may prescribe what is known as a “starter dose” of a medication, which will require follow-up to ascertain if adjustment is required; but many times, that follow-up never occurs. Make sure you schedule a subsequent visit with the doctor when a new medication is prescribed, and make certain the senior keeps that appointment.

Side effects might end up being worse than the condition being treated. Of specific concern are medications that impact a senior’s balance and thinking – escalating the prospect of a fall or any other hazardous consequences. Medications to be specifically cautious about include anticholinergics, sedatives/tranquilizers, benzodiazepines, antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, and opiates. Talk with the physician if any of these medications are prescribed for an older loved one and cautiously weigh the potential risks against benefits.

Remaining compliant with medication adherence can be a struggle. Keeping in mind 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 extraordinarily challenging to take prescriptions precisely when and how they are prescribed. Engage the services of a home care agency, like Continuum, for medication reminders.

Cost may be prohibitive. When cost for a specific prescription is high, older adults can be tempted to cut their dosage amounts to conserve cost – an extremely risky behavior. Older adults can instead talk to their doctors about generic versions of medications, or any other means to keep cost at a minimum.

Know about possible interactions with other meds. Bring the complete list of all the medications your senior loved one is taking to a doctor or pharmacist with knowledge in polypharmacy, who is able to confirm that the drugs can safely be taken in combination with one another. Make sure to include any over-the-counter medications taken regularly as well. For a fast online evaluation, this drug interaction checker allows you to enter each of a senior’s medications and view any concerns that may then be discussed with his / her health care provider.

Contact Continuum, providers of 24 hour home care in St. Louis and surrounding areas at (314) 863-9912 for more resources on managing medications for seniors, as well as professional hands-on assistance with medication reminders, transportation to doctors’ appointments, and more to assist those you love in remaining healthy and safe.