Most nurses can attest to the frustration felt when going through a medication reconciliation with an elderly patient. Oftentimes the elderly patient will come to the ER with a pill box and no idea of what medications it contains. They may be able to recognize certain pills based on color and size and how they correlate to how many times daily they take the pills, but without any idea of what the medication is for. As a result, the hospital staff is often left waiting for family members to arrive with a medication list that is, in many cases, outdated.
So what common sense interventions can ensure accurate medication administration in senior care when reminders such as pill boxes and medication lists aren’t enough? Here are three tips for helping your senior loved one stay on top of their daily prescriptions.
1. Be Actively Involved
Whether it’s a family member or a home health aide, it’s important to have someone around regularly to ensure your elderly loved is taking their medications as prescribed.
Upon daily examination of the pill boxes, have you noticed that some pills have been missed? Do you occasionally find a spare pill under a chair or the bed? Has your senior been sick lately, dealing with bouts of nausea or vomiting that cause them to miss taking pills due to skipping meals?
Having a personal presence in the life of your elderly loved one can make a huge difference in their safety and in decreasing hospital admissions.
2. Education Is Key
Although it can be tedious, allowing the elderly person to go through the pill box filling process themselves can be very enlightening. You can determine if they understand the schedule and if they are aware of what pills they are taking and for what reasons.
For example, if they are aware that four of their daily pills are for blood pressure, and upon waking they check their blood pressure and get a low reading, this awareness may encourage them to confer with a home health nurse or their doctor’s office before taking the prescribed medications—which could dangerously lower their blood pressure.
3. Simplify the Prescription Filling Routine
Try to have medications filled at only one pharmacy if possible, and then assign one person to be in charge of reconciling what medications are filled on a monthly basis with the medication list. This way, medications that are no longer being prescribed can be eliminated from the list, while newly prescribed medications can be added on a month-to-month basis.
Keeping track of a sometimes long list of medications can be difficult for many seniors, especially when other factors—such as memory loss or illness—come into play. While it may not always be possible for you to be there to remind them what to take and when, a home health aide can provide the extra care and support your loved one needs.
At David York Agency, our experienced in-home healthcare providers can help to monitor medication and ensure your senior takes the medications they need, when they need them. We are certified and trained in the latest guidelines for eldercare.
For more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at 718.376.7755. A free phone consultation can help you decide what services might be best to provide you and your loved one with the assistance you need.