As we grow old, we may need to take some medications and supplements to treat health conditions. Here is a guide to managing prescriptions and medications for seniors.
A person can feel many changes in the body as they age. There is a risk of some chronic diseases that need treatments and medications. Around 87% of seniors take at least one prescribed drug.
Older adults take more medications than any other person. If seniors need to take multiple medicines in a day, keeping them organized can be challenging. They may find it challenging to remember to take medications. Older adults can miss a dose or even overdose on any medicine.
Seniors need to manage their prescriptions and medications effectively and reduce any errors. Missing any dose or even overdosing on it can harm the body.
Here is a guide to managing prescriptions and medications for seniors wherein we will cover:
- Why is managing medications necessary for older adults?
- How can you manage prescriptions and medications for seniors?
- Medication management strategies
- Consuming alcohol along with some medications leads to health risk
Why Is Managing Medications Important For Older Adults?
Most older adults need to take multiple medications. At times, it is easy for them to mix the medications. But it is essential to take correct medications for older adults to manage their symptoms and treat health conditions.
Seniors need to keep their medicines well organized and avoid medication mistakes like missing a dose, taking the wrong medicine, or overdosing. It is advisable to consult your doctor before changing any medication.
Medication Mismanagement In Seniors
When seniors don’t manage their medications properly, it results in specific health issues. This includes:
Multiple Health Problems.
If seniors suffer from multiple health problems and need consultation from multiple doctors, they need to be careful in managing all the medications. Not doing so can lead to serious health issues like memory problems or mental illness. If someone is struggling to manage their medication or forget to take doses on time, it is a serious issue that needs to be taken care of by caregivers.
There may be some drugs that a patient cannot take with other doses or with specific foods. For example, taking medications and some citrus fruits may lead to adverse effects. Sometimes taking multiple medicines at the same time also leads to injuries and has a risk of falling.
A person should always read the medication labels containing the drug’s basic information.
Not Continuing With The Treatment
Sometimes seniors don’t continue with the treatment and consult their doctor regularly, forgetting to consult their doctor. People who take multiple medicines may skip some doses or stop taking certain medicines due to financial issues.
When you review your medication and prescription details, carefully read all the information there on the label. Look at the dosage, interactions, timings, and other details.
Let us look at similar parts of the prescription label.
Information About The Pharmacy
Usually, you will find the names, contact numbers, and other details in your prescription about the pharmacy.
Information About The Patient
You will find the name and address of the patient in the prescription.
Your healthcare provider and doctor’s name and contact will be there in the prescription.
You will find the name of the medicine, its brand, chemical or generic name, along with some units such as mg.
You will find instructions about the tablet, and it will the written as when the tablets need to be taken in a day. The patient needs to carefully read all the details about the medicines and consult the doctor if they have any side effects.
You will find the company name in your medication detail and other description of the drug.
There will be warnings such as prohibiting the drug to anyone other than the person it is prescribed to. It is advisable not to take any other medicines unless prescribed by your doctor.
How Can You Manage Prescriptions And Medications For Seniors
As people age, they may suffer from multiple diseases that require treatments. Let us look at ways to manage prescriptions and medications and help your family members prevent any health hazards.
#1 Consult Your Doctor About Your Loved Ones Medications
Get a printout of the prescription your loved ones are taking. Keep a note of all the doses they take and how many times they take the medicines. Include all the over-the-counter drugs, supplements, and vitamins they take.
Your loved ones may get the treatment done by multiple doctors. Note what doctor has prescribed what medicines and for what disease. This will be very helpful and give a bit of guidance on what medications your loved ones can avoid having.
#2 Properly Read All The Medication Labels
As a caregiver for your relatives or family members, you can ask the doctor if you doubt or confuse specific medications.
If your loved ones start with new medications, you can ask how to take the medicines and if it needs to be taken before or after food. Also, properly review the information in the label and look for any interactions and side effects it can cause.
It is essential to read the prescription and medication label before starting with any new medications or over-the-counter doses. By reading the labels correctly, it helps reduce the risk of taking any wrong medications.
#3 Check For Any Medicines Side Effects And Interactions
When your loved ones start with any new medications, ask your doctor if they can take any other medicines. Certain medication that helps treat certain diseases can create a problem when it interacts with other medicines.
Your doctor will tell you about the possible side effects and interactions, and they will help avoid any medicines that may have a negative effect on the medicines.
You can ask your loved ones if they find any difference when starting with any new medications. Different medicines affect a person differently, and there can be changes in their sleep pattern, weight, or hunger. Please consult your doctor when they feel any such changes.
#4 Consult Your Doctor For Age-Appropriate Drugs
As a person ages, there are specific changes in the body. The way a body reacts to specific medicines changes with age. Older people are more sensitive to certain medicines. This is mainly because the body loses strength, and the liver and kidneys do not function as usual. So the medications need to be adjusted as per the person’s age.
If not done accordingly, it can lead to specific harmful effects or any adverse symptoms. It may include memory loss or balance issues. Ensure that the medications that your loved one takes are age-appropriate.
#5 Make Sure The Medications Are Safe For Seniors
Multiple medications may not be safe for seniors to take. Either they should avoid taking it or take it with caution. Some medications have adverse effects or interactions, while some may not be effective. It is advisable to consult your doctor before taking any medications or other supplements.
#6 Ensure That Your Loved Ones Knows The Danger Of Increasing The Dose
To get relief from the symptoms faster, your loved ones may want to increase the dosage of their medicines. They may want to take the medicines more often, and they may also want to take some other supplement or over-the-counter drug for fast relief from the pain.
But taking any medications by self will lead to other health issues. Caregivers need to make a proper medication plan for their loved ones. If they are not getting relief from any medication, it is better to consult your doctor and take their advice.
#7 Make Sure Your Loved Ones Take Medicines Regularly
Medicines work on a person or are taken regularly as recommended by the doctor. Sometimes older adults forget to take medicines on time. You can keep track of their medication and set reminders.
There are a lot of apps that help monitor the medications of your loved ones. You can install these apps on your mobile, smartwatches, or other systems.
Older adults who have Alzheimer’s or dementia need to have all the medications carefully. A caregiver will have to monitor the medicines.
#8 Decrease The Number Of Pharmacists
It is easier to communicate and consult your family doctor and coordinate with them regularly than any other specialists. If your loved ones find it difficult to communicate with the doctor on certain medications, a caregiver can support and help their loved ones on this.
Also, it is better to use only one or two pharmacists for all the medications. However, it is easy to go to the nearby pharmacy after your doctor’s consultation. But it is best to keep all the prescription details in just one pharmacy.
Nowadays, most drugstores keep an electronic record of all the patient’s details. So it is easy to find out which medicines the patient needs to refill.
Medication Management Strategies
As older people take multiple medications for different symptoms, it is essential to keep them well organized. Let us look at some strategies to manage medicines.
Assemble All Vitamins, Supplements, And Other Medications In One Place
If you keep all the supplements and medications in different places, it gets challenging to find them. Older people will especially lose track of all the medicines and supplements they need to take.
Seniors may have a habit of keeping some medicines at the bedside, certain supplements in the kitchen, or some cabinets. However, it is essential to keep all the over-the-counter drugs in one place, and it may have an adverse impact if combined with any other prescription medications.
This way, you will know which medicine needs to be taken at what time. And also, make sure you are not taking multiple medications for the same health condition.
When taking multiple medications, having a pill organizer is very helpful. Usually, a pill organizer comes with colorful compartments, and it helps differentiate different medications. You can even label it at your convenience.
You can keep a separate box of extra medicines or medicines that you take occasionally.
Store All The Medications Properly
Make sure to keep all the medicines in a cool and dry place. Avoid storing the medicines in the bathroom as the heat and moisture can affect the medicines. Also, make sure to keep the medicines safe and away from kids. Follow your physician’s recommendation if certain medicines need to be stored in the refrigerator.
As a caregiver, it is essential for you to know what all medications your loved ones are taking. Make a list of all the medications and other supplements they are taking.
You can make a list that includes:
- All the prescription details, vitamins, and other over-the-counter drugs.
- When and how much each medicine needs to be taken.
- Doctor’s name with the prescription details.
- What medicines treat what diseases and symptoms.
Sort Out Weekly Medications
Keeping all the medicines well organized is good medicine management for seniors. Using pill organizers, you can sort and organize all the medicines for the week. Make sure the pill organizer has enough compartments to sort all the medicines.
Check If There Is Any Interaction
Older adults take multiple over-the-counter drugs and supplements. As a caregiver, make sure there is no adverse effect on your loved ones due to intake of certain medications. If any negative impact is found on your loved ones, consult your doctor for advice right away.
A pillbox will keep your medicines well organized. Setting a reminder on your smartphone or watch is a great and effective way to keep your loved ones on track, and you can select the reminder multiple times in a day as well.
Take Medicines With Food
It is easy to remember and take medicines while having meals. This way, you can take your medicines regularly and your regular meals.
Help Seniors Who Have Dementia With Their Medications
If older adults are suffering from diseases like dementia or Alzheimer’s, they will need help managing their medications. Just setting reminders may not be helpful for them. There is a high chance of them taking medicines incorrectly. So as a caregiver, make sure to keep a check on your loved ones with their medications.
Refill Your Medicines Before It Gets Over
If any medicines are prescribed for long-term, make sure to refill them before it gets over. This way, older adults will not miss out on any dose or worry about the dose getting over. You can ask your doctor to prescribe the medicines for 90-days at once.
Buying medicines from just one pharmacist will make it easy to refill the medicines every few months. Many pharmacists even notify the patients about refilling certain medications.
Consuming Alcohol Along With Some Medications Leads To Health Risk
Older adults are at higher health risk if they drink alcohol and are under certain medication treatment. As people age, their body slows down, and it takes time to clear the alcohol and medicines. Many medicines may cause adverse side effects if combined with alcohol, and either the medicines won’t work or may be harmful.
So if you are taking any prescribed medicines, you need to avoid consuming alcohol or drink in moderation. It is advisable to consult your doctor.
Make Sure To Take Your Medicines Properly
Around 50% of the older adults do not follow their doctor’s instructions on taking certain medicines. Seniors may find it difficult to take medicines.
- They may find it difficult to read and understand the directions written in the prescription or label. They may find it difficult to read due to the small print. You can ask your pharmacist about the direction and how to take medicine.
- Seniors may find it difficult to open the medicine bottle or pour it. You can ask your pharmacist for a cap so that they can open it with ease.
- Sometimes the doctors may not tell or provide full details on taking certain medications. Like if people suffer from high blood pressure or cholesterol, it is essential to know when to take medicines and treat such conditions with no symptoms.
- Some seniors may even worry about the side effects due to certain medications. This is especially when your loved ones start with any new medications. You can even ask your pharmacist about the possible side effects and consult your doctor if you have them.
Consult Your Doctor Regularly
It is advisable to consult your doctor and review your medicines every six to twelve months. You can even consult your doctor anytime you find any side effects due to certain medications. Tell your doctor how you feel after taking the medications and express your concerns.
Managing and organizing your prescriptions and medications well will result in proper treatment, and it will also help avoid any overdose or misuse of medicines.
It is better to take the help of your caregiver if you find it challenging to manage and sort all your medications. Many risks are prevented when you know how to take certain medications and are informed about the possible side effects.
I hope you find this article helpful and manage your medications correctly, and keep it well-organized.