You wake up in the morning, make your bed, shower, and put on a pot of coffee. The next step is to take your medications for the day, which are part of your medication management plan. According to the Lowen Institute, the prescribing of multiple medications to individual patients (called “polypharmacy” in the scientific literature) has reached an epidemic level. More than four in ten older adults take five or more prescription medications a day, tripling over the past two decades. Nearly 20 percent take ten drugs or more.
Managing up to ten medications per day can be a daunting and even dangerous task. Our team at Gardens at Columbine helps residents manage medications daily. For seniors at home, understanding medication combinations are essential for maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Avoiding medication errors
Did you know that, according to CDC, approximately 350,000 people are hospitalized after visits to the emergency room because of adverse or harmful drug reactions caused by medication mismanagement? Older adults often take multivitamins and supplements as well as medications. Supplements and multivitamins seem harmless and only have positive effects on the body. However, supplements and vitamins could have the same negative reactions as other medications, so proper management is key to staying safe.
Medication Management Tips
Ask your Doctor and Read the Fine Print
A large majority of medication interactions come from senior patients that get prescribed medications from multiple doctors. Be sure to share your medications with each doctor and specialist to avoid any adverse reactions. Doctors are humans at the end of the day, so reading the medication labels is also critical. Read the medication label in detail to get an idea of dosages and potential side effects and interactions.
Review Dosages and Get Organized
Ask your doctor if the medication dosage is age-appropriate. Your senior loved one may have a different reaction in comparison to someone of the same height and weight but younger. Side effects also can come into play based on different dosages. Always check with your pharmacists and doctor together to be sure the dosages are cohesive with your medication plan.
Proper management of your medications is very important to ensure that you are taking the right medication. Having a well-organized pill organizer can assist you in keeping track of all of your medications.
For older adults, a pill organizer with multiple compartments is the best choice. This will keep their medications organized and ready to take.
Double-Check Bad Medications
Did you know that some medications are “blacklisted” when mixed with other potentially harmless medications? Some medications pose harmful side effects, while other combinations may cause one to be ineffective. An example is taking diazepam (Valium) with other medications, which may cause ill effects. When you and your loved one visit the doctor, ask if the medication you’re prescribed is on the caution list.
Assist your Loved One with Medication Management
The good news is that many ways to help your loved one manage medications. Consider a mail-order medication service such as Pillpack, ExactCare Pharmacy, or PharmaPoint to help your loved one with dosing. Mail order medication services send patients packs that help organize daily, weekly, or monthly doses. Buying a pill organizer is a low-tech way to know what pills to take each day and avoid taking too many or taking doses that may cause side effects.
We’re Here to Help
Whether your loved one is staying with us in our memory care, assisted, or independent living, our team will help manage your loved one with medications. We also help with meal preparation and activities around campus. Our mission is to keep your loved one safe, healthy, and happy while staying with us.