The Importance of Proper Medication Management
Managing Medications for Seniors
A growing concern for older adults is what is known as polypharmacy, which is defined as the use of multiple medications at any one given time. As seniors generally have several medical conditions all needing treatment, those over the age of 65 often need to take a variety of prescription and over-the-counter drugs to manage their conditions. In fact, the average senior takes five or more prescription drugs each day, along with various medications like antacids, aspirin, antihistamines, as well as supplements and vitamins.
While taking such a wide variety of medications can help improve quality of life for seniors, improperly managing medications can result in serious consequences to their health. Dangerous drug interactions can cause negative side effects like loss of appetite, weakness that can lead to a debilitating fall, and even mental health conditions like anxiety and depression.
Medication Management Tips
It’s vital that seniors take all prescribed medications correctly to stay healthy and out of the hospital. However, it’s not uncommon for certain issues to arise when a senior is on so many pills at once. These types of problems include forgetting exactly how and when to take the medication, like taking them at the wrong time of day or on an empty stomach. Also, older adults tend to metabolize drugs differently, which can harm their health if they aren’t managing medications correctly.
Here are some easy ways for seniors to properly manage their medications:
- Create lists of current medications. Keep an ongoing list of all the medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, that are taken on a daily basis. This list can then be brought to both the doctor and the pharmacist for review, which can help eliminate any questions that may arise. The list should include the dosage, the reason for taking the medication, the time of day it should be taken, and any further instructions, like taking with a full glass of water or with food.
- Bring the list to doctor appointments. As mentioned above, the medication list should be brought along to any doctor appointments so the physician is aware of all medications and can provide any new information about them. The list can also be reviewed for any potential hazards, like inappropriate dosages or possible dangerous interactions. It’s important to fully understand why each medication was prescribed, too, and if any additional instructions about current or new medications are given, make a note of them right on the list at that time.
- Ask about medication side effects. Stay on top of any changes to your current health by learning about any possible side effects of the medications. If any adverse effects are experienced, reach out for medical assistance right away.
- Set a schedule for taking medications. Consider setting reminders on a smartphone or special alarm clock so medications don’t get accidentally skipped. Also, it’s important to know what to do in the case of a missed medication — is it better to wait and take it at the next scheduled time, or should it be taken as soon as it’s remembered? A doctor or pharmacist can be consulted for more information.
- Get organized about refills. Sometimes, seniors tend to procrastinate and wait until they are down to their very last pill before ordering a refill. However, even just skipping one pill can cause problems in a treatment program. It’s recommended to refill prescriptions at least a week in advance to avoid running out completely.
- Order all prescriptions from the same pharmacy. Utilizing the same pharmacy allows the pharmacist to monitor medications, eliminate side effects, and stay on top of any adverse reactions to new drugs. Plus, picking up prescriptions all in one trip helps streamline the process and return valuable time in the day.
- Properly store medications. Read the labels carefully to ensure medications are being stored in the right place. While many people store medications in their bathroom, this is actually not the best place for storage. The bathroom can be warm and damp and cause drugs to break down more quickly. Plus, some medications need to be stored in the refrigerator.
Compassionate Senior Health Care Services at Advent Christian Village
The Copeland Clinic is an integral part of the community at Advent Christian Village, offering quality medical care in modern facilities. The Village Pharmacy is located right on site as an added convenience to both our members and the general public. Most prescriptions are filled on the spot, and a variety of over-the-counter medications are also available. We invite you to contact us to schedule a personal, guided tour so you can see all that ACV has to offer.