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SENIOR CARE AND MEDICATION MANAGEMENT

By Lynn Hunsaker

Proper medication management in the elderly population can bring years of better health.  On the other hand, mismanaged medications can lead to serious consequences or premature death.  Misuse of medications is a common problem among seniors.  Seniors often take several medications daily, which can be confusing and results in missed doses, medications taken at the wrong time of the day, or even overdoses.   There are many serious issues caused by medication mismanagement including:  disorientation, sleepiness, falls, harmful drug interactions with side effects which mimic another condition (such as dementia), or death.


Ways to Stay on Track with Medication Management


Start with your pharmacist.  Often poor vision can cause many seniors to misread directions on the small prescription bottles.  Many pharmacies can print larger typeface on their prescription labels.  Simply ask your local pharmacist if this is offered at your pharmacy.


Get and keep organized.  One popular tool to help you stay organized and on track with your medications is the use of pill organizers.  There are several types of pill organizers such as: simple organizers with compartments for each day, twice a day and three times per day organizers, or more sophisticated pill organizers which can sound an alarm when it is time to take your meds multiple times per day.  Pill organizers can be found at most pharmacies.


Discuss your medications with your doctor. Place all of your medications in a box or bag to take with you to every appointment with your doctor.  Cross-check your medications with your doctor.  Discuss any side effects you are experiencing or any other concerns and never stop taking a medication without your doctor’s consent.


Keep a checklist.  Make a list of every medication you are supposed to take, including when you should take it, dosage, reason taken, and if it needs to be taken with or without food.  This medication list can be copied to keep one on the refrigerator door and one with you in your purse or wallet.


Stay ahead of refills.  Always plan ahead for refills, especially before going out of town.  Many pharmacies now offer automatic refill service.  This can be helpful for when you are not traveling.


Ask for assistance from a friend or family member.  Talk to a friend or family member about your medications and see if they can assist you by providing a second set of eyes to verify that your medications are properly organized.  This will give you some extra peace of mind.


Investigate a possible move.  There are many senior living options where medication management is part of the assistance provided.  A custom level of support and supervision can be determined by a senior living consultant or placement agency.  With several hundred senior living options in most large cities, it can be a daunting task to try to look for a safe option by yourself or on the internet.  A local placement agency can assess your level of care needed and find a perfect fit where things like medication management are part of the services provided.  Placement agencies usually provide their services free of charge to you because they are paid by the home or community which you choose.  The options can vary from Independent Living Homes to Assisted Living Homes, Memory Care Homes, and Nursing Homes depending on your needs.


There are many choices to assist seniors with managing their medications.  This is a good reminder that old fashioned common sense is the best prescription when managing medications.