Anywhere between 75% and 96% of seniors have admitted to making mistakes with their medication. This is concerning considering that this could represent how many older adults either don’t understand the side effects, general effects, or dosing recommendations of their medications. You should never result to guesswork when it comes to handling prescriptions even if you are used to what it is you’re taking. Medication management for seniors is vital for senior safety and efficiency in treating pain without sacrificing safe dosing practices.
As we age, medication management becomes increasingly important because, with age, the general fact is that we often take more medications. Those 65 and older often take more medication compared to other age groups. It’s essential to pay close attention to what we take so that we can ensure the correct doses of prescriptions and avoid harmful interactions between different drugs. Unfortunately, medication management is often overlooked which can lead to serious health consequences.
One of the biggest challenges that seniors face with medication management is the sheer number of medications they may be taking. On average, seniors are taking anywhere from five or more prescription drugs each day, and many also take over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements outside of what is already prescribed. This can make it difficult to keep track of which medications are taken at which times and in what dosages.
To help manage medications effectively, seniors should consider the following tips:
Keep a List of Your Medications
Seniors should keep an up-to-date list of all their medications, including the names of the drugs, the dosages, and the times they should be taken. This list should be carried at all times, given to family members and should be updated every time a new medication is prescribed or an existing medication is changed. This also means that you want to be aware of what each medication does and seniors should remain in consistent communication with their primary care doctor in the case of any questions or concerns especially when introducing a new medication or supplement into your regimen.
Use Medication Reminders
Medication reminders can be an effective way to help seniors remember when to take their medications. These can be as simple as using an alarm clock or setting reminders on a phone or another smart device. There are also specialized devices available that can dispense medication at specific times, making it easier to take the correct dose at the right time. You could also prepare your medications early and use a pill organizer to do so.
At least 55% of seniors don’t take their prescription medication orders as directed. This makes it even more imperative to make good use of reminders. The key is to use a reminder that suits what you respond well to and what suits your schedule. This could mean putting it on the fridge or microwave if you look for breakfast first thing in the morning, having a family member or friend calling to remind you, setting alarms, or having a smart device keep up with your medication schedule to keep you on track.
Review Medications Regularly
Seniors should schedule regular appointments with their doctors and pharmacists to review their medications and ensure that they are still necessary and effective. This is especially important for seniors who are taking multiple medications, as the risk of drug interactions increases with the number of drugs taken. Keep in mind that all medications may not continue to be effective if a certain condition changes so you need to keep your doctor aware of your health status especially if things progress, worsen, or get better.
Be Aware of Potential Side Effects
Seniors should be aware of potential side effects of their medications and report any new symptoms or changes in health to their healthcare provider. Some medications can cause dizziness, drowsiness, or confusion, which can increase the risk of falls, other injuries, and general accidents. This isn’t only related to minor adverse effects. The wrong drugs combined or too much of a certain medication can cause accidental overdoses. This is easily avoidable if you are aware of what you should and shouldn’t be taking together.
Consider Medication Management Services
For seniors who struggle with medication management, there are a variety of management service options available. These may include pill-dispensing devices, medication management apps, and management services provided by pharmacists or the healthcare providers you work with. As a senior, a good idea would even be to coordinate a medication management plan with your family if anyone close to you is also your caretaker.
By keeping an up-to-date list of medications, using medication reminders, reviewing medications regularly, being aware of potential side effects, and considering medication management services, seniors can ensure that they are receiving the correct doses of their prescriptions and avoiding harmful interactions and accidental overdoses. With these tips, seniors can maintain their health and quality of life without sacrificing safety.