A recent study of over 2,000 seniors reveals that an astonishing 87% take at least one prescription drug, and a full 36% are taking five or more – as well as 38% using over-the-counter meds on an everyday basis. Medication management for seniors can be very difficult, and there are certain risks and dangers that can come about in the process.
As specialists in aging care, the Jewish Family Services home health team assists seniors to ensure meds are taken when and how they’re prescribed. It is also very important to understand common problems seniors encounter with their prescriptions, and just how to overcome them. As an example:
Occasionally, signs or symptoms continue in spite of taking medications properly. Doctors may prescribe what is known as a “starter dose” of a medication, which requires follow-up to find out if modification is necessary; but many times, that follow-up never occurs. Remember to schedule a subsequent visit with the physician when a new medication is prescribed, and ensure the older adult keeps that appointment.
Adverse reactions may be more severe than the condition being treated. Of particular concern are medications that impact a senior’s balance and thinking – increasing the danger of a fall or any other high risk consequences. Medications to be specifically vigilant about include anticholinergics, sedatives/tranquilizers, benzodiazepines, antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, and opiates. Consult with the doctor if any of these medications are prescribed for an older family member and thoroughly weigh the possible risks against benefits.
Staying compliant with medication adherence can 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 highly difficult to take prescriptions exactly when and how they are prescribed. Engage the services of a home care agency, like JFS Care, for medication reminders.
Cost can be prohibitive. When cost for a particular medication is high, older adults can be tempted to reduce their dosage amounts to conserve cost – an extremely risky behavior. The elderly can instead talk to their physicians about generic versions of medications, or other means to keep cost at a minimum.
Learn about potential interactions with other meds. Bring the full list of all of the medications your parent is taking to a physician or pharmacist with knowledge in polypharmacy, who is able to confirm that the drugs can safely be taken in conjunction with one another. Make sure to include any over-the-counter medications taken regularly as well. For a quick online evaluation, this drug interaction checker enables you to enter each of a senior’s medications and view any concerns, which can then be shared with his or her medical practitioner.
Contact JFS Care, providers of Jewish family services home health in Los Angeles, CA and the surrounding areas, at (855) 455-2273 for additional tips on medication management for seniors, as well as professional hands-on assistance with medication reminders, transportation to doctors’ appointments, and much more to assist those you love in staying healthy and safe.