When you think about your aging loved one living at home alone safely, you might think about finding ways to reduce their risk of falling or to find ways to support their nutrition after they return from a hospital stay. While these are certainly good things to think about and support your loved one in, most family members don’t realize one of the most dangerous challenges for seniors living at home: their medication regimen. Senior medication management mistakes can lead to unplanned hospital visits, incorrect medical diagnoses, and even death.
The more you know about senior medication management dangers, and how to prevent them from happening, the more you can feel confident your loved one is safe at home.
Challenges of Senior Medication Management
While research is constantly evolving, reports show that the average older adult takes more than 5 prescription medications daily. This number does not include other vitamins, supplements, or over-the-counter medications they may also be taking regularly or as needed. It’s no wonder why senior medication management is so difficult even for the most active older adults: there are a lot of medications in their pillboxes.
Any time your senior loved one adds a medication to their daily regimen, the chances for error or interaction increase. This is especially true as many prescription medications need to be taken at different times of day, some on a full stomach with others on an empty stomach, and other complicating factors. Add in the possibility of interactions or side effects, and it becomes even more difficult to manage.
Common Senior Medication Management Mistakes
Senior medication management is difficult for the majority of older adults, and mistakes or errors happen for a variety of reasons:
- Wrong medication: Sometimes, seniors take the wrong medication, confusing pills of the same size or color.
- Wrong dose: Perhaps the most common error, seniors can take too much or too little of a prescription and end up facing serious health consequences.
- Wrong time: Another common mistake is taking medications at the wrong time of day. This can lead to feeling drowsy during the day due to taking a nighttime medication in the morning or other complications.
- Trying to adjust to a new medication added to the routine, which is especially common after a hospital discharge
- Inability to keep up with refilling schedules, which can lead to missing a medication because the pill bottle is empty.
- Interactions with other prescriptions, vitamins, supplements, or over-the-counter medicines: interactions can go unnoticed for days or months if you don’t report new symptoms to your loved one’s physician or pharmacist
Making Medication Management Safer
There are ways you can decrease the risk of a medication error or situation while your loved one lives at home. The first is to take on the task of filling and refilling their prescriptions at the pharmacy on your own, as well as stopping in weekly to carefully fill their pill box. This gives them an easier way to ensure they are taking the right dose at the right time of day, but if your loved one is living with dementia or some other type of cognitive decline, managing a pill box can be dangerous.
You can enlist the help of technology, using a smartphone to set a reminder alarm to take specific medications. Or, there are automatic pill dispensers, like the Hero system, that give the correct medications at the correct time in a convenient cup and even texts family members if the medications aren’t taken. However, this is expensive and can be a daunting new piece of technology in the home.
Finally, working with the experts at Total Care Connections can offer you peace of mind that your loved one is getting the best care and medication management available. We ensure your loved one gets the cues they need to take the right medications at the right time and we stay on top of all refill requests. We also watch for side effects or interactions that could be caused by a new medication and take the appropriate steps to keep your loved one safe.
Call us today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about our medication management services. Your loved one deserves it and you deserve the peace of mind knowing they are safe.