Medication Safety When Caring for Aging Adults

Every year, thousands of people use their Fanmi phone to contact emergency services due to a loved one taking too much medication or the wrong medication. Medication accidents are surprisingly common, but they can be avoided with these medication safety tips for aging adults.

Utilize Pill Dispensers

Pill dispensers often have a spot for each day of the week. When aging adults or caregivers take the time to put medication in the designated spot, seniors will never be confused. Instead of wondering whether they took their medicine for the day, they can simply open their pill dispenser and look.

Maintain a Medication List

Maintaining a medication list will ensure that seniors are not prescribed medication that will have a bad interaction with the medicine they are currently taking. This can also help doctors and emergency personnel identify problems that may have resulted from medicine. Every medication list should include:

  • A list of every medication prescribed
  • The exact dose of each medicine (how many milligrams it is)
  • How often the medication is taken
  • The first and last name of the doctor that prescribed the medicine
  • Reason for the medicine
  • Side effects experienced when taking the medicine

Keeping an accurate medication list will prevent doctors from prescribing unnecessary medication or medication that can be harmful to patients.

Read Warning Labels/Leaflets

Medications often come with a label or leaflet that explains potential side effects, including serious side effects. Aging adults are encouraged to read these thoroughly to educate themselves. This will help them know if the medication is causing harmful side effects and can save them from taking medication that they could be allergic to.

Caregivers should also read these leaflets. Often, caregivers have a better memory than aging adults, making this a vital step to providing proper care. It is important for seniors to actively participate in their healthcare, but they should function as a team with the caregiver to ensure that medication-related health problems do not arise.

Have All Prescriptions Filled at the Same Location

When patients use one location for all their prescriptions, the pharmacy will have a record of all their current medications. Pharmacists can double-check to ensure that aging adults are not taking two medications that could result in a harmful interaction, medications they have had problems with in the past, and they can inform patients about common side effects to be aware of. The pharmacy serves as an additional method of protection against medication mishaps.

If it is not possible to have all prescriptions filled at the same location, patients are encouraged to use the same pharmacy. Chain pharmacies, such as CVS, often have multiple locations, but all the stores have access to the same database. Pharmacists will be able to review a complete list of medications from all locations used if the same pharmacy is used to fill prescriptions. Use your Fanmi phone to contact local chain pharmacies to ensure that they follow this procedure before switching.

Address Issues That Can Cause Non-Adherence

Aging adults are more likely to not comply with medication or treatment plans than other age groups. Common reasons for non-adherence include:

  • Forgetting to take medication
  • The rising cost of healthcare, and prescription medications
  • Unpleasant side effects
  • Unable to manage multiple medications/medical conditions at once

Seniors often forget to take medicine, particularly if they are required to take multiple medications several times a day. Setting an alarm on their Fanmi phone to remind them is one way that this can be addressed. Another common way to remind aging adults to take medication is for a loved one to remain in contact with aging adults several times a day to ensure that medication is taken properly.

Healthcare costs remain one of the primary reasons that individuals, including aging seniors, do not comply with medications and treatment plans. Instead of non-adherence, a person can use several solutions to solve this problem. Inquiring about cheaper medications as a treatment option and shopping for cheaper doctors are both great ways to reduce the cost of health care.

Assisting aging adults in budgeting money is another way to provide assistance to seniors. Aging adults can shop for cheaper phone plans for seniors to help them cut costs in other areas, which will give them more money to spend on the healthcare that they need.

Often, aging adults refuse to take their medication if it causes unpleasant side effects. While it is common for patients to despise side effects, there are other solutions to this problem that can be used. Aging adults should be encouraged to communicate concerns with their healthcare provider. They may be prescribed a different medication, or doctors may be able to offer alternative treatments to address side effects to increase their quality of life. When aging adults communicate with their doctor, they will address health concerns while managing side effects.

As adults age they often develop more health conditions that require more medication. This can result in seniors having to follow several treatment plans simultaneously, which can get confusing. In these situations, aging adults often need assistance following medication management plans from someone else, such as a loved one or someone from their physician’s office. Several health insurance plans offer this service for seniors, too. Instead of non-adherence, caregivers are encouraged to reach out for the assistance that aging adults need.

Keep Medications Safe

Caring for aging adults may require that medications be behind a locked door. Caregivers commonly use mini fridges with a lock, a small safe or childproof locks for cabinets to keep relatives with conditions such as dementia from taking medicine when they are not supposed to. Keeping medication safe can prevent overdoses, or death.

Aging adults suffer from more medication mishaps than any other age group, but caregivers are the first line of defence against medication-related deaths and emergency room visits. Medication safety is one of the most important things that caregivers must learn when caring for aging adults. By utilizing these tips, caregivers will be able to help seniors manage their health care to increase independence, keep loved ones suffering from mental illnesses like dementia safe, and they can help prevent non-adherence.

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