Today, many seniors are living longer with chronic conditions and relying on a variety of medications to help them stay well. It’s not uncommon for a senior to have to take upwards of 10 different pills every day, plus essential vitamins, too. Managing medications on this level can be a challenge, but it’s vital that prescriptions are taken properly to help keep seniors healthy and out of the hospital.
Medication Management for Seniors
Taking so many medications at once can lead to dangerous drug interactions and overmedication in seniors. Some common mistakes seniors make when it comes to taking medications include taking more than the doctor prescribed or taking them incorrectly, like taking them on an empty stomach when the directions say to take with food. Plus, older adults tend to metabolize drugs differently, which can harm their health if they aren’t managing medications correctly.
Here are some easy ways for seniors and their caregivers to properly manage their medications:
- Make a list. Keep an ongoing list of all the medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, that you take on a daily basis. The list should include the dosage and the reason you take it, as well as the time of day you take it and any further instructions, like taking with a full glass of water or with food.
- Bring the list to doctor appointments. Once this list is created, bring it to any doctor appointments with you so your physician is aware of your medications and can provide any new information about them. Update the list with any new instructions the doctor gives you.
- Store medications properly. Most people store medications in their bathroom, but this is actually not the best place for storage. The bathroom can be warm and damp and cause drugs to break down more quickly. Plus, some medications need to be stored in the refrigerator. Make sure you read the labels carefully so you’re storing them in the proper place.
- Use the same pharmacy for all medications. Streamline the process for picking up new prescriptions by using one pharmacy for all medications. This way, the pharmacist can keep tabs on what medications you are on and can help eliminate side effects and adverse reactions to new drugs.
- Schedule refills in advance. Don’t wait until you’re on your very last pill to refill prescriptions. Even just skipping one pill can cause problems in your treatment program.
- Know what to do if medication is missed. If you do miss taking a medication because you ran out or you just forgot to take it when you were supposed to, know what the next step is. Talk to your doctor about how you should proceed- should you just wait and take it at the next scheduled time, or should you take it as soon as you remember?
- Learn about the side effects. Knowing about the possible side effects you might experience from your medications is important so you stay aware of any changes to your current health in response to the new drug. If you experience any adverse effects, talk to your health provider right away.
Daily medication management can be difficult for seniors and their caregivers, but it’s important to develop and maintain the best system that works for you. Make sure you take medications as prescribed so you stay in the best health and enjoy the highest quality of life possible.
For more information about American Senior Communities, please visit www.ASCSeniorCare.com.