Failing to take medications as prescribed is quite common, and quite dangerous. According to the CDC, adverse drug events lead older adults to visit the emergency room around 450,000 times per year. That’s largely because seniors take more medications than any other age group.
For those with memory problems, managing medications can be even more difficult. Some may fail to fill or refill a prescription, discontinue medication too early, or accidentally take the wrong dose. Fortunately, there are a number of things that can help make medication management a little bit easier.
What is Medication Management?
Medications can have complex interactions with a variety of different foods, supplements, and over the counter drugs. Medications also interact with other medications. With so many different moving parts, the importance of medication management should be clear. Not only can the efficacy of medications be affected, proper management is even a matter of life and death.
Consequently, choosing the right approach to medication management largely depends on an individual’s unique circumstances. How often do dosages change? How often do medications need to be taken? How important is any given medication? How many different healthcare professionals are prescribing medications? The answer to these questions can help inform the specific medication management solutions most suitable to an individual’s needs.
Medication Management Tips
When visiting the pharmacist or doctor, bring a list of medications, supplements, and over the counter drugs you use. Having more information makes it easier for health providers to identify possible negative effects or drug interactions. Keep that list up to date with the brand names, dosage being taken, and frequency of the dose.
Use as few providers and pharmacists as possible. Good communication between healthcare providers is essential for avoiding problems with drug interactions. Using multiple pharmacies means you’ll have to undergo an additional level of review to make sure dosages are appropriate and risks are minimized.
Don’t be afraid to talk to the pharmacist about how combinations of medications might interact, or other questions you might have. Pharmacists are often nearly as qualified as your physician to answer these questions.
Medication Management Systems for Seniors
Pill organizers are made in a variety of different forms, including the popular pill-calendar format. For pills that need to be taken in the morning or evening, you might use two separate pill organizers of different colors. And for pills that need to be taken at regular intervals, special pill bottles are constructed with built-in LCD clocks, which count down from the moment they were last opened.
Medication reminders are crucial. Alarm systems can also be useful reminders. With a voice assistant, smartphone, tablet, or similar device, it’s quite easy to setup some reminders along with timers. Likewise, involving medications into a routine can make them easier to remember. For instance, taking them shortly after brushing your teeth, or right after a meal.
When Self-Guided Medication Management Won’t Work
For older adults with minor memory problems, alarm systems or calendar systems can be handy. But if a loved one is suffering from a more severe cognitive impairment, it may not be safe for them to manage their own medications. Improperly taking medications can be dangerous or even lethal, which is why failing to take medications as prescribed can be a warning sign that a medication management care plan may be necessary. If you are interested in medication management services for seniors, contact your local Griswold Home Care office to discuss how caregivers can help with reminders.