Prescription drugs are a critical lifeline for many seniors and this is not without concerns: 1 in 5 prescription drugs taken by seniors are inappropriate (misprescribed, or over or underprescribed) and are often medications that carry a high risk for adverse drug events. Fifty-five percent of elderly patients are considered “noncompliant” with doctors’ orders, in that they don’t take medications as directed, but there are ways you can prevent deadly accidents from happening as a result. Here are five tips that can make medication management easier.
1. Use a computerized pill organizer
Caregivers of dementia and Alzheimer’s patients especially need to be mindful of seniors who are prone to misusing prescription drugs by forgetting to take them or accidentally over or under dosing. Dementia and Alzheimer’s patients may forget to take their medications, or accidentally overdose if they forgot they already took them. Computerized pill organization systems will ring a designated number if no pills were taken, and many have matching alarms and necklaces that remind them to take pills.
2. Look into alternatives if the patient has trouble swallowing
Some seniors have health problems that cause issues with swallowing pills. Chewing, crushing, or breaking the pill isn’t a good idea because some medications are long-acting and will be released too quickly, or otherwise make them sick. Ask the pharmacist or doctor if the medication is available in another form like liquid or a patch.
3. If the patient has vision problems, get large-print labels for medicine bottles
Most pharmacies will print large print labels for medication bottles and instructions. If need be, you can also print out instructions in a large font to serve as reminders for medications and self-care.
4. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about medication reactions
Most seniors take several medications. Ask thorough questions about all of them and potential adverse reactions that are probable when taken as directed, let alone if a dose is missed or taken improperly.
5. Look into drug assistance programs
Low-income seniors frequently split pills, take less than the recommended dose, or go a long time without taking any medication because there isn’t enough money. Your state may offer prescription assistance programs and some drug manufacturers also offer discount programs to seniors. Pharmacies may also offer senior discounts.
Managing medications can be complex but by putting these tips into action, life is easier for both seniors and caregivers.