Safe Medication Management for SeniorsJune 15, 2021
Safely Manage Medication for Seniors: a Guide
If you dread going to the doctor because you know it means another change to your medications, you’re not alone. In your senior years, it’s common to have a long list of prescriptions and frequent changes to your doses to help manage your health conditions. It’s a big job, and it can be even harder if you find yourself growing forgetful.
Even so, there are few responsibilities more important than medication management for seniors. Taking your medications properly ensures you’re taking the right steps to protect your health, but mistakes—especially if they happen frequently—can have dire consequences.
We’ve compiled a list of solutions to common medication mistakes for seniors, so you can take charge of your meds and spend more time enjoying your retirement years.
1. Mixing up which prescription to take and when
Studies show that 87% of seniors take one prescription drug, 36% take five or more, and 38% use over-the-counter medications. That’s a lot to manage, and it’s more than most people can keep straight in their heads. One safe medication management tip is to keep a list on your computer that you can update after each doctor’s visit. Include the name of the medication, how much you take, how often, who prescribed it, and why. Also include any special instructions, such as needing to take the medicine with food or water.
Keep a printed copy of your list with your medications so you can refer to it when you have questions. Also put a copy where emergency responders can find it.
2. Missing or doubling up on doses
One of the most important safe medication management tips is to always take your medicine as prescribed. This means avoiding missing doses or taking extra, which may be accidental or intentional.
You can prevent accidents by using a pill box, setting reminder alarms, and following a routine so your medications become part of your daily habits. Waiting too late to request refills is another common cause of missed doses, so always be sure you allow enough time to get a prescription refilled when you run low.
Another safe medication management tip is to always talk with your doctor before making changes. If you notice a condition improving or don’t like the side effects, it can be tempting to stop taking a prescription. Conversely, if you feel like a particular medicine isn’t helping quite as much as it used to, you might think about taking an extra pill.
Those are valid concerns, but it’s best to discuss them with a doctor rather than making adjustments on your own. Stopping a prescription may cause your condition to return or worsen. On the other hand, doubling up could cause an overdose, making you ill or even putting your life at risk.
3. Keeping medication management struggles a secret
Having trouble with your medication is quite common, and it’s nothing to feel poorly about, especially since there are many alternatives when it comes to medication management for seniors. Talking about your concerns with your doctor, a family member, or loved one can help you find solutions, whether it’s having someone help you with your pill boxes, arranging for senior care services at home, or exploring an independent living community where a little extra help could give you a greater quality of life.
At a Life Plan Community like The Oaks at Denville, which is also known as a continuing care retirement community, you’ll find a continuum of care to meet your needs as they change over time, whether it’s independent living, assisted living, or skilled nursing. In addition to helping with your senior health needs, the community offers an award-winning program that focuses on whole-person wellness for the mind, body, and spirit.