Elderly Prescription Drug Management

Modern medicine has contributed greatly to improved health, longer life spans, and improved our general quality of life. Prescription drugs are available for many conditions and diseases seen in seniors. Medicines today treat, cure, relieve pain, prevent deadly illnesses, and aid early diagnosis of diseases. However, for seniors, prescription drugs, social drugs, herbal remedies or alternative medication and over-the-counter drugs can be deadly when not used effectively, appropriately and safely.

The Department of Health and Human Services believes that medication problems are prevalent because:

  • Over 50 percent of seniors are noncompliant with prescription drugs consumption instructions. This means that they don’t follow the instructions of their doctors.
  • Over 200,000 senior adults are hospitalized every year due to harmful drug reactions.

According to a recent survey, seniors don’t take their prescription drugs as instructed because of:

Memory Loss

Senior people who have Alzheimer or dementia can forget to take their prescription drugs and thus skip doses. On the other hand, when they don’t remember if they have taken their medication, they can take it again, which can lead to an overdose. If your loved one is experiencing memory loss, you can help them by using a pill organizer. There are several products available such as watch alarms, computerized pill dispensers, and necklaces that have reminders.

Vision Problems

Most seniors with vision problems aren’t able to distinguish between pills or read the small print on labels, and this can lead to harmful abuse of drugs. You can help your loved one by requesting labels with large and readable print.

Difficulty Swallowing

Some older adults experience difficulties when swallowing capsules or tablets. They try to crush, chew, break and mix the capsule in drink or food. This can sometimes cause a negative side effect due to long-acting medicine that is released too fast. Different types of medicines may also not work properly or can make the person sick. Therefore, don’t allow your elderly loved one to crush, chew, break or mix capsules or tablets in food or fluids unless a pharmacist or a doctor says it’s safe to do so. Instead, you can request drugs that are in liquid form.

Lack of Funds

Seniors that don’t have enough money may be unable to buy prescribed drugs. Some cut back on prescribed doses or split pills while others go for a long time without their medication. In such a situation, you can use less expensive generic drugs, ask your pharmacist about discount programs available, and use online platforms to check whether your loved one is eligible for a prescription savings plan or financial assistance.

Social Isolation

Most senior people live alone, and in a recent research, it was discovered that most people living alone may fail to take their medicine as advised by the doctor. In such a case, consider home health care and inform these professionals that your loved one needs help with his or her medication.

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