Overmedication and Seniors: Learn Tips to Help Avoid This Common Issue
The days of “take two aspirin and call me in the morning” have morphed into “take two of these…and two of these…and perhaps one of those, too!” Nearly forty percent of seniors take at least five different prescription medications daily – not to mention supplements, vitamins, and OTC meds. It is easy to see how overmedication and seniors can go hand in hand and how they may experience adverse medication reactions.
Take these measures to prevent medication complications for an older adult you love:
Make a list, and check it twice. Make a list of all of the medications – both over-the-counter and prescription – that the senior loved one is currently taking. Share the list with all of the older adult's healthcare providers, and present updated lists whenever there is a change in medications. Then, roughly every six months, go over the list with their primary care physician to ensure that all of the medications are needed and that current doses are ideal.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Make sure you’re fully clear on the purpose of each medication and that there are not any contraindications with other medications the senior is taking. A doctor or pharmacist can run the older adult's meds through a drug interaction database to confirm. If you are unsure about anything related to the prescribed medications, speak up! You’ll want to make certain you have an understanding of:
Whether a generic version is available
What to do if a dose is missed
Exactly when as well as how the meds must be taken (i.e., on a full stomach, with a full glass of water, if they can be broken in half or crushed, etc.)
What the potential side effects might be
And any other questions you might have
Set up a system. When you’ve confirmed that all of the senior’s medications are necessary and you have the details you need to make sure they are taken correctly, create a system for following physicians' orders. For some seniors, this may be as simple as a pill box that is filled weekly. Or you might want to depend on the services of a home care provider, like The Care Company, for medication reminders.
It's also important to remember that a physician should always be consulted before starting or changing any medications, including vitamins or over-the-counter meds. Some prescription medications are part of the same drug category as OTC meds that could result in too much of a medication being administered. In other cases, OTC medications or vitamins interact negatively with prescriptions.
We’re always available to help older adults stay healthy and safe. Contact us online for more information about our in-home care services for seniors in Toronto and the nearby areas and how they could benefit a senior in your life.