According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, most of the older adult population reports taking at least one prescription medication. More than half of this population group shares they take four or more prescription drugs daily. It may come as no surprise that older adults tend to take more medication than any other age group. Older adults are more likely to have more than one chronic health condition that merits prescription medication. What’s alarming is that as many as 55 percent of older adults take their medications improperly.
Management of multiple prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, and/or supplements can be overwhelming and challenging for many older adults. Taking medications incorrectly can cause some older adults to experience adverse complications, such as cognitive impairment, and can even end in fatality.
October is National Talk About Prescriptions Month. It’s the perfect month to evaluate your medication regimen and implement safeguarding strategies. If you are an older adult who’s currently taking any medications, here are five medication management strategies that could save your life.
Consult With Your Physician
Make an appointment with your primary care physician to review your medications. Gather all your medications before the appointment and bring them with you. Include prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs, and any supplements you take regularly. Review your medications with your physician. Ask if the dosage is accurate and if any medications can be eliminated. Ask for a printout of your current medication list. Keep this list in a prominent location in your home. Take it with you to each doctor appointment in the future and update it as needed.
Learn About Side-Effects and Drug Interactions
During your consult, ask your primary care physician to review any adverse side effects of your current medications. Ask your doctor about steps that you can take to reduce the risk of these side effects. For example, if a side-effect is nausea, you might want to take the medication with food to reduce the risk of nausea. Discuss possible drug interactions with your doctor and avoid taking over-the-counter medication or supplements without discussing them with your doctor.
Take Medications as Prescribed
Another life-saving medication management strategy is to take your medications as prescribed. This might seem obvious, but many older adults fall prey to thinking they know better than their doctor. Avoid skipping doses, taking doses sporadically, or stopping the medication without first talking with your doctor. If you experience an adverse side-effect, call your doctor immediately before you stop taking the medication altogether. It’s tempting to stop a medication as you feel better or increase frequency to help reduce pain but stick to your prescribed regimen. Some medications take time to be fully effective.
Establish a Medication Routine
Once you’ve reviewed your medications with your doctor, it’s time to implement a medication routine. Use medication tools, such as a pillbox or an alarm on your phone to help establish your routine. Put your medications in a prominent location that’s already a part of your daily routine. For example, if you take your medication in the morning, leave your pillbox next to your cereal bowl to remind you to take your pills. Keeping medications on the bathroom counter will help you remember to take your pills before bed.
Involve a Second Set of Eyes
Finally, seek support from a trusted family member. Ask them to help you fill your pillbox once a week or double-check it after you’re finished. Ask your family to check in with you throughout the week and remind you to take your medication at a specific time. You can even invite a family member to your consultation appointment with your doctor to help you take notes. A second set of eyes may catch a mistake that just might save your life.
If you’re an older adult who needs assistance with medication management or needs help exploring senior living options, Senior Living Solutions is here for you. We are a complimentary concierge service that provides unbiased guidance and resources to individuals and their families exploring their options. Our goal is to provide alternatives to nursing home care. We’ve personally toured and vetted each community and provider so that you don’t waste time exploring options that aren’t a good fit for your lifestyle. Let us help you along this journey. To learn more, please get in touch with us today by calling 501-650-3013.