Maintaining as much independence as possible for seniors helps them feel self-worth, confidence and purposeful throughout their day. From preparing their own meals to maintaining their finances, taking care of their pets to keeping their home orderly. But some tasks, if not completed properly, can be detrimental and even result in an accelerated loss of overall independence. Read on for helpful information about medication management for seniors.
Managing medications, including remembering to fill prescriptions on time, taking the right doses at the correct time, and being able to identify what prescriptions are being taken when asked by other doctors or specialist, can be overwhelming for any individual with a lengthy list of meds.
Add in general aging forgetfulness and confusion, or memory loss from Alzheimer’s, and medication management can quickly become a bigger problem.
As age increases so does the typical number of prescription and over-the-counter medications taken. The average elderly person is taking more than five prescription medications per day.
How can caregivers help with the medication being taken without taking away a sense of independence?
Interaction and Dosing Safety
- Whenever possible caregivers should attend doctor’s appointments with the senior and question any medications that may seem to be unnecessary or dangerous. Make sure family and personal caregivers home care specialists are aware of all medications being taken as prescribed by a primary care physician or specialist.
- Have all prescriptions filled at the same pharmacy to be sure the pharmacist has a complete list and can flag any dangerous drug interactions the doctor may have missed.
- Each time prescriptions are picked up, ask the pharmacist for a print out of medications currently on file. Ask them to remove any that the senior is no longer taking to avoid accidental future refilling. Compare the list to the medications at home and go over the list with your senior.
- Make sure the doctor and pharmacist are aware of any over-the-counter medications being taken. A medication does not have to be prescribed to have harmful interactions.
Daily Dosing and Refills
- Set up medication in daily pill dispensers for one or two weeks at a time. This will allow the caregiver and the senior to visually see what has been taken and what still needs to be taken.
- Check into pharmacies that pre-package medication for daily dosing. Some pharmacies will blister pack them by date and time to help keep them organized.
- Set a daily reminder using a device such as talking alarm clock or medical alert device. Each day at the correct time, the senior will be alerted that it is time to take their medications.
- Create a medication calendar that indicates when refills will be needed or ask if your pharmacy has a reminder system in place. Be sure to request refills at the earliest possible time to ensure they are in stock and available.
While limiting their independence by taking over the medications can be difficult for both the senior and the caregiver, it is absolutely necessary if there is any cognitive decline.
Taking the wrong medications, taking the correct medications at the wrong time, or forgetting to take medications altogether can exasperate confusion and memory loss and become a situation with added confusion and increased mismanagement.
One way to prevent error is to follow this Safety Guideline: The Five Rights of Medication Administration
- The Right Patient: drugs must always go to the right client. Is there both a husband and spouse in the home?
- The Right Time and Frequency of Administration: is the drug given in the morning or at bedtime as a sleep aide?
- The Right Dose: too much or too little of a drug can be harmful.
- The Right Route: is the drug taken by mouth, inhaled through the nose or rubbed onto the skin?
- The Right Drug: assure adequate lighting and read the label cross checking with the medication list.
Medication management and the level at which caregivers are involved may need to adjust over time to adapt to the needs and the abilities of the senior.
Do you have a question or need assistance? Feel free to contact us at (419) 754-1897. We’ll be happy to help.