Managing Senior Medications

medication management for seniors

It's Medication Safety Week. That seems like a good time to discuss the importance of medication safety and things you can do for your loved one to ensure medication safety. 

“Old people need a lot of pills.” 

That was an observation my son observed about his Granddad. And while that may be a bit of a crude way of making that observation, it is certainly a correct observation.  The truth is that senior citizens sometimes find themselves taking a vast array of pills and medications.  Sometimes the diversity of medications can become hard to keep track of.  That is why so often your aging parent may have a pill dispenser kit which allows him to measure out the drugs for an entire week to try to keep it all straight.

The real concern with that much medication being used at the same time is medicine interaction.

If your retired mom or dad takes five, six, seven or more pills at a time, it’s easy to imagine that one of those medications might get into conflict with another. This is not an idle concern. Many drug related overdoes or interaction problems occur with senior citizens every year due to combining their many prescription medications with over the country drugs, or with alcohol and the chemical reaction in their bodies became explosive.

If you are the caregiver for your aging mom or dad, it’s up to you to come up with some strict rules that you have to insist become the law of the land for your mom or dad to assure that there is little or no possibility of a drug related reaction which could lead to hospitalization or death.

Knowledge is power when it comes to managing senior medications.

The two key people you should turn to for that knowledge are your parent’s doctor and pharmacist.  Sometimes the problems which arise from conflicting medicines comes from numerous doctors prescribing drugs. Be sure there is one doctor who is primarily in charge of your parent’s health in general. Have him or her review the current crop of medications, their frequency and ingredients to assure there are no potentially dangerous interactions. 

Your pharmacist can perform the same function as he is trained in understanding the way drugs work. As with the doctor, it’s good to pick one pharmacist for all your parent’s drugs and schedule a time to go over the entire medication picture with the pharmacist to look for potential problems.

The next important area of focus to avoid potential medication mistakes is the home. 

There is a lot you can do to prevent your aging parent from accidentally taking the wrong medications or the wrong dosages, either of which can cause potential problems. If the medicine cabinet where the meds are kept is full of similar looking bottles and the only way to tell them apart is the fine print on the bottles, do your part to make them unique. 

You can buy multicolored bottles to transfer the drugs into. Then you can write out your parent’s medicine schedule in clear understandable terms like, “3 p.m. take 2 from the blue bottle, 1 from the pink bottle and 1 from the green bottle.”  You can even take the next step of using a label maker to mark each bottle in clear, large print type so there is no possibility that what is in that bottle could be misunderstood.

Alternatively, you could use an automated medication dispenser to control the various medications.

These keep medication locked and only dispense the medications needed and at the correct time. Automated medication dispensers come with various features such as lights, timers, and some even call the family if the medication is not taken. Click here to see the automatic medication dispensers which we recommend.

Take proper care to keep track of medicines and their expiration dates and stay ahead of reorder cycles. A great way to save money is to use online pharmacies or reorder services that can provide you with generic equivalent of prescription drugs. Make sure the medication provider is legitimate so you know you are getting exactly what you ordered.

Your retired mom or dad may no longer have the kind of attention to detail to stay up on their medications and prescriptions. In addition, poor eyesight and mental fatigue can cause him or her to fail at staying on top of a complex drug situation. As you fill in that gap for your parent, in doing so, you will have peace of mind knowing they are getting the medications they need and only the medications they need.

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