Aging and Medication: Hazards, Health, and Hope

Every new drug formulation, testing phase, and government approval means longer, healthier lives. However, new medicines also bring new problems and the possibility of exacerbating old ones. Aging and medication go hand in hand, but how much do you really know about your prescriptions?

Senior Woman Taking Medication From Pill Box. Aging and medication concept

Aging and Medication: Fast Facts

  • Adults age 65 and older buy 30% of all prescription drugs and 40% of all OTC medications.
  • One in six seniors will suffer an adverse reaction to their medications.
  • Falls are the leading cause of death among the elderly, and many of those falls are related to a drug overdose, missed doses, and adverse drug interactions.
  • Prescription drug abuse is found in about 30% of those between the ages of 65 and 85.
  • Polypharmacy, “defined as the use of multiple drugs or more than are medically necessary, is a growing concern for older adults” and increases the chance of death in the elderly.

90% of the aging population faces a higher risk of Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. However bad the statistics, adding new drugs without careful consideration increases both the chances of bad reactions and abuse.

What do you need to know about aging and medication?

Learning to Ask Questions

The best way to ensure that you or your loved one are getting the right treatments is to ask questions. Educate yourself! Do you know the possible side effects of your heart medication? Do you understand why you should always take a certain pill on an empty stomach? Are your prescriptions compatible? These questions can help you avoid hazards and enjoy the benefits of your medications.

Not sure how to approach your doctor with these questions? Consider a three-way conversation between the patient, the doctor, and a health advocate. The advocate is a friend, relative or healthcare professional who serves as a listener, note-taker (see our blog post “Don’t Worry: I’ll Take Notes For You“), and information seeker. Together, go over which doctors are prescribing which drugs as well as the dosages, side effects, and things to avoid. You should also discuss OTC products such as vitamins and herbal supplements. Additionally, review the patient’s daily routine and health, as well as any physical or cognitive changes.

Drug Interactions: What to Know

Medications interact with other medications and alcohol as well as certain foods. These interactions cause prescriptions to work differently or stop working altogether. Age also changes how drugs work; the aging body has less muscle to absorb medication, so dosage adjustments are sometimes necessary to prevent side effects. Ask your doctor to cover drug interactions for each new prescription you receive.

Missed Doses

Depending on the type of medication and the person’s condition, missed doses of certain medications can result in rapid and serious illness. Time-released drugs, drugs requiring food, and drugs for diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, seizure disorders and cancer treatments are critical. Trying to make up a missed dose by doubling it can result in a trip to the emergency room.

There are smartphone reminder apps, charts and calendar reminders available, and for the forgetful, there are smart pill bottles.

 

Our agency’s 33 years of experienced care is reflected in every nurse and administrator on our team. For more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, please contact us at 718.376.7755. If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on TwitterGoogle+, or LinkedIn.

Common Sense Medication Reminders For Senior Care

medication reminders for seniors

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 simply be able to recognize certain pills based on color and size. They may even know how many times daily they take the pills. However, correlating it to what the medication is for might be a mystery. 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. It is time for common sense medication reminders for seniors

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.

Examine the pillboxes daily to see if some doses have been missed. Occasionally look under the chair or bed to find a spare pill. Has your senior been sick lately? Has she been dealing with bouts of nausea or vomiting? All this could 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. It can increase their safety and decrease their hospital admissions.

2. Education Is Key

Although it can be tedious, allow the elderly person to go through the pillbox filling process with you. Having them do it 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, someone may be aware that four of their daily pills are for blood pressure. Upon waking, they check their blood pressure and get a low reading. This awareness of their condition may encourage them to confer with a home health nurse or their doctor’s office before taking the prescribed medications.  In that way, they could avoid a situation which could dangerously lower their blood pressure.

3. Simplify the Prescription Filling Routine

Try to have medications filled at only one pharmacy if possible. 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. At the same time, 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. This is exacerbated 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. Our aim is to provide you and your loved one with the assistance you need.

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