5 Tips for Managing Seniors Medications
With a growing population of older adults and the availability of medications, the potential for medication safety problems will increase. When people age, they are more likely to be taking more than one type of medication. Seniors normally take more than three. Taking multiple medications increases the risk for mix-ups in what is being taken, drug interactions and potential side effects.
Aging adults are more susceptible to effects from medications and may respond differently than younger individuals. Changes in the kidneys, heart, liver and central nervous system occur. This causes more vulnerability to overdose or severe side effects. Eyesight and memory loss can be affected as we age. This makes it harder to remember taking medication and following directions. Below we will explore some tips on managing medications for seniors.
Bring A Medications List To Your Doctors Visit
Take a list of prescription medications, including supplements and vitamins, you are taking with you to the doctor. This is especially important if it is the first time you are seeing a doctor. Many people, especially seniors, see more than one doctor. Each doctor may not have access to all of your records so the more information they have, the more accurately they can prescribe medications. This will also help them identify any potential drug interactions or adverse side effects. You may also want to take someone with you to help take notes. Once a year ask your doctor to review everything you are taking including supplements and vitamins. A good way to remember this is to do it at your annual checkup.
Purchase An Organizer
Buy a pill organizer to keep things on track. These are small boxes to put your weekly medications in to keep them organized. They have small compartments that are labeled for 7 days at a time. Larger ones allow for morning, afternoon, evening and bedtime slots. It is a great way to stay on top of taking your medications consistently and on time. These can be purchased at a local drug store or you can order online through Amazon. Click here to see an example of one on Amazon.
Know the Potential Side Effects That Might Occur
Know the potential side effects or adverse effects of what you are taking. This will tip you off to health changes that may occur in response to a new medication or combination of medications. If health changes do occur, contact your doctor immediately. Side effects can be from the combination of medications being taken together and can mimic other health issues. Be sure to follow the directions as indicated by your doctor or pharmacist. If you have questions or are unsure how to take the medication, be sure to ask.
Sometimes there are alternative medications that might be better suited for a senior. Click here for a sample list. This, of course, is the doctor’s decision on what is best for you and your medical history.
Ask Your Doctor or Pharmacist Questions
Knowing how to take your medication is very important. Some medications may require you to take on an empty or full stomach. Others might require the elimination of certain supplements, vitamins or foods. You will want to know what the dosage is and when to take it, proper storage such as refrigeration, or side effects you might experience. Be sure to ask your doctor or pharmacist prior to taking if there are any concerns about the combination of medications or how a new medication might affect you.
Taking your medications correctly will ensure they work effectively and the pharmacist will be able to provide that information. You should always take your medications as prescribed and never stop taking them without discussing with your doctor. Doing so could be unsafe as some medications need to be titrated down and may be necessary to keep you healthy.
Be Aware of Medications Deemed Unsafe For Seniors
The Health In Aging put together a list of medications that older adults should avoid or use with caution. Some pose a higher risk of side effects or interactions, while others are simply less effective. A commonly prescribed sedative in the benzodiazepine category, such as diazepam (Valium) is an example. These are on the list because seniors may have more sensitivities to these types of drugs. Ask your doctor if you are concerned about a particular medication.
Something else to consider is to take control of your loved one’s medications if they have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or show signs of confusion.