As an in-home senior care agency serving clients in the San Francisco Bay Area, we know that many seniors take several medications on a daily basis. In fact, of those 65 and older, about 40% take five or more medications. Given the fact that combining some medications can cause a harmful interaction, it’s important to manage medications in a way that is smart and will help ensure your loved one’s health and safety.
According to JAMA Internal Medicine‘s “Changes in Prescription and Over-the-Counter Medication and Dietary Supplement Use Among Older Adults in the United States, 2005 vs 2011,” from April 2016, about 15% of older adults may be at an increased risk for potentially harmful drug interactions. This equates to about one in seven seniors who take multiple medications.
How can you help manage medications to ensure your loved one’s safety?
- Keep a written list of all of the information related to medication use. This list should include medications, dosing times and amounts, whether the medication should be taken with food, and other pertinent details.
- Organize medications in a sturdy pill dispenser that’s simple to open and includes large text so your senior will easily be able to read it.
- Know which medications may interact with others. Whether a prescribed drug or herbal supplement, be sure to do some research on what foods, drinks, and other pharmaceutical medications or supplements should not be used with each prescription your loved one takes. You can easily determine how to use medications properly by talking to the doctor or pharmacist, and reading labels carefully.
- Make sure medications are stored properly. Some require refrigeration, while others must be stored at certain temperatures or in a location that is cool and dry. Always make sure to store medications in a location that seniors with dementia, children, and pets cannot access.
- Review the medications your aging loved one takes each year with the doctor. Seniors take many medications for years or even a lifetime, while others may not be necessary on a permanent basis. Schedule an appointment once each year with your loved one’s doctor and be present while all medications are reviewed to determine whether any should be discontinued or changed.
Medications can often extend a senior’s life or improve their health, however using medications that may have harmful interactions can actually cause a decline in health.
At Care Indeed our goal is to make it easier for you to provide good care for an aging loved one. Whether you’re interested in respite care; care for dementia; or daily help with meals, hygiene, light cleaning, and other daily tasks, our Bay Area in-home caregivers can help.