Medication Safety for Seniors
Today, seniors are living longer with a variety of chronic conditions that require medications to help them enjoy the best quality of life possible. In fact, studies show that the average person over the age of 65 takes between two and seven prescriptions daily. Add in supplements like essential vitamins, and managing medications can certainly turn into a challenge for even the most organized senior.
However, it’s vital that seniors take all their medications as directed to stay healthy and out of the hospital. But, taking so many at once can lead to dangerous drug interactions, serious side effects or overmedication. It can be difficult to remember all the “rules” when it comes to the proper way to take medications. For instance, which prescriptions need to be taken on an empty stomach? Which should be taken with food? Is there a certain time of day each medication needs to be administered? Since it’s so important to take medications exactly as prescribed by the doctor, finding ways to stay organized can help ensure optimal health.
Medication Management Tips
Here are a few medication management tips seniors should keep in mind to avoid any serious complications:
1) Create a list of all current medications. Keep an ongoing list of all prescription and over-the-counter medications that are taken on a daily basis. The list should include both the reason the medication is taken, along with the correct dosage, time of day to take it, and any other instructions, like taking it on a full stomach or with water. This list can then be discussed regularly with a doctor and updated accordingly.
2) Learn about possible medication side effects. Knowing common medication side effects can help you stay aware of any changes to your current health, especially when adding a new drug into the mix. If adverse side effects appear, they should be discussed with a doctor or pharmacist right away.
3) Set a medication schedule. If necessary, set reminders so you remember to take your medications at the right time of day every day. A medication dispenser can help keep your pills organized throughout the day. If you miss a medication, be aware of how to proceed- should you wait and take it at the next scheduled time, or take it as soon as you remember? Your doctor or pharmacist can help answer these questions.
4) Order refills in advance. Don’t wait until you’re down to one pill to order a refill of your prescription. Cutting it too close can cause you to miss medications, and in some cases, even skipping just one pill can cause problems in your treatment program.
5) Use the same pharmacy for all prescriptions. Pharmacists are extremely helpful in keeping tabs on your medications and can help eliminate any adverse side effects or reactions to new drugs. Plus, you can streamline the process for refills and pick up all your prescriptions at the same time each month.
6) Properly store all medications. While it might seem easiest to store medications in the bathroom, this is not the best location for many drugs. Bathrooms get warm and damp, which can cause medications to break down faster. Or, some meds may even need to be refrigerated. Read all the labels carefully to ensure you’re storing medication in the right place.
Download our medication checklist to help you stay organized and avoid complications. Click here for our helpful reminder list that can be filled out specifically for your needs.
Franciscan Ministries offers joyful living throughout our senior living communities, dedicated to making life carefree and easy for our residents. Contact us today to learn more about how we can improve quality of life and assist in a healthy aging plan.