Medication Safety Tips for Seniors

  • September 10, 2019

Medication challenges can present themselves at any age, but especially for those who take more than one daily prescription. Staying on track can be difficult for reasons ranging from forgetfulness to difficulty reading prescription labels. For older adults, however, the risks are greater than for younger adults.

According to the National Academy of Medicine, 770,000 seniors find themselves in an emergency room each year for issues related to prescription medications. Helping an older family member avoid this type of complication begins with understanding the most common challenges seniors face in managing their medication.

Common Challenges Older Adults Make with Medication Management

  1. Mixing up times: Many medications are time-sensitive, such as those for diabetes and heart disease. If a dosage is missed or if two doses are taken too close together, it can lead to dangerous health consequences. That’s why having a medication management system in place that not only reminds the senior what dosage to take, but what time as well is important. MedMinder has a variety of electronic options that make it easier to stick to a medication schedule.
  2. Difficulty swallowing: Seniors may have a chronic health condition that makes swallowing difficult. This can cause them to be afraid they will choke when taking a medication. To compensate, an older adult might crush a pill to take with food or empty the contents of a capsule in water to drink. While this may be fine for some medications, it can be dangerous for those with a time-release component. Check with the pharmacist to see if altering the format is allowable.
  3. Difficulty reading small print: As we grow older it is more common to suffer vision loss. Reading fine print, even with prescription glasses, can be especially difficult for some. A senior may make a mistake with a medication simply because they read the small print on the bottle wrong. This challenge is easy to prevent if you talk with the pharmacist. Many times, the label can be printed in larger font that is easier on aging eyes.
  4. Adverse reactions and interactions: Seniors metabolize medications at a different rate than younger people. This often means they need a smaller dosage than a younger person. If the dose is too big, an older adult might suffer an accidental overdose because their body simply can’t metabolize the medication quickly enough. Adverse reactions and interactions between medications are also more common among older adults.
  5. Storing medication improperly: Most people aren’t aware how and where to store their medications. In many households, medications are kept on a kitchen counter or in a bathroom cabinet. Unfortunately, these are both bad locations to store medication. The temperature and humidity fluctuate greatly in these rooms which can impair the effectiveness of the medications. A bedroom is usually a better option.

Medication Management at Five Star Senior Living

Medication management is one of the most requested services at Five Star Senior Living communities. Our caregivers handle all of the details from ordering refills on a prescription to reminding a resident it’s time to take a dose. Call us at (617) 796-8387 to learn more about our medication management program.
 


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