Medication Management Tips That Could Save Your Life
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians: “The statistics on medication usage among elderly patients in the US are eye-opening: more than one-third of prescriptions drugs used in the US are taken by elderly patients; the ambulatory elderly fill between 9-13 prescriptions a year (including new prescriptions and refills); the average elderly patient is taking more than five prescription medications; the average nursing home patient is taking seven medications.
When caring for the elderly, proper medication management is crucial, mostly because they take so many pills and some are required at different times and days, and if they are mixed up, the results could be life threatening. Typcially an elderly person is taking prescriptions for more than one aliment, it is important that you have a competent pharmacist that knows your history to avoid a harmful interaction.
Guidelines for Effective Medication Management
1. Make sure the pharmacy label gives the reason for taking the prescription
This is mainly significant for older adults who are taking multiple medications, to ensure that they know what each medication is for and how to take it properly.
2. Create and maintain an up-to-date medication list
After every doctor’s visit, update the medication list, this way you will always have a current copy. Make sure you give a copy to a family member, or next door neighbor, even keep a copy in your wallet or purse, in the event of an emergency you will have all of the information needed.
3. Bring a medications list – or the medications themselves – to the doctor with you
Letting your doctor see what prescriptions you are taking, allows them to see if something should be adjusted or removed, or even added.
4. Ask your provider if the dosage is age-appropriate
As we age our bodies slow down, it is important to ensure that the prescriptions you are taking are the correct dosage for your age.
5. Talk to the pharmacist and ask questions
Pharmacists are there to answer questions and to give you piece of mind that the prescriptions you are taking will help and not harm you. If you are unsure of anything regarding your prescription, ask the Pharmacist.
6. Get a second opinion if you are uncertain
When you buy a new car, or a television you shop around for the best deal and price, your health care is even more important, so get a second opinion, there is nothing wrong with knowing your options.
7. Be aware of medications deemed unsafe for the elderly
The Beers Criteria for Potentially Inappropriate Medication Use in Older Adults, put together by the American Geriatric Society, is a list of medications that older adults should avoid or use with caution. Some pose a higher risk of side effects or interactions, while others are simply less effective.
8. Know the side effect profile of your medications
Each medication is given to you in a bag with a description of the medication and the side effects make sure you read and understand the side effects of the medication and the interactions with other medications that could be harmful. Again, if you are uncertain, ask your Pharmacists.
9. Tell your provider about any previous adverse drug effects
If you have an adverse drug reaction, make sure you tell your doctor and pharmacist and make a note on your medication list, this will help to ensure you are not given drugs that have adverse effects.
10. Closely monitor medication compliance in the cognitively impaired
If your loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, dementia, or other cognitive diseases, make sure they are not responsible for their medication management. These diseases attack the short term memory and therefore they cannot be responsible for making sure they are properly taking their medication.
11. Minimize the number of providers and pharmacists you use
As we age the amount of specialty doctors you need to see increases, however, you can find doctors that specialize in more than one area of expertise. If you can minimize the number of doctors and pharmacists you see you will reduce the chances of problems with your medications.
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