This article was originally shared on Aging Care.
When patients, caregivers, doctors and pharmacists work as a cohesive care team, medication-related problems can be avoided, resulting in better health outcomes and improved daily functioning. The following tips will help seniors and their caregivers manage prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications responsibly.
Learn as much as possible about each medication that is being taken. Be sure to read the information pamphlets that come with prescription medicines. Ask the doctor and pharmacist any questions you may have about the drugs your loved one is taking and how you can help them manage their medication regimen. In addition to the name, dosing information and potential side effects, it is also important to understand why each one has been prescribed.
Make sure all health care providers have your loved one’s complete medical history on file. These records should contain information about surgeries, immunizations, test results, allergies and family health history. Records can be shared between health providers upon request.
Furthermore, all physicians on your loved one’s care team should have a current and complete list of all medications your loved one is taking. This list should include all prescribed and OTC medicines, vitamins, supplements, etc. Note the name of each drug, dosing information, reason for use, prescribing doctor and any cautions stated on the package. Always carry a copy of this list with you in your wallet or purse. This record will be invaluable in the event of an emergency, such as a serious drug interaction or overdose.
The average older adult takes multiple prescriptions each day. In addition, many seniors take various OTC medications, such as antacids, laxatives and pain relievers, without informing their physician. These drugs may interact with each other in the body and either not function as intended or cause adverse side effects, some of which may be life-threatening. Therefore, providing a complete medication list to all care team physicians is crucial.
Taking medications as directed is imperative to ensure safety. Read all instructions carefully, dispense only the recommended dosage at prescribed times and finish the entire prescription if instructed to do so. Some medications may not be taken in conjunction with specific foods, drinks, supplements or other drugs. Other medications may have to be taken with food or a whole glass of water to minimize side effects like stomach upset.
Sometimes medicines affect seniors differently than younger people. Let the doctor know if a medication doesn’t seem to be working or if it is causing bothersome side effects. Never discontinue a medication or change dosages or timing without first consulting the prescribing physician. In addition, never share or give medications to another person.
If possible, fill all prescriptions at the same pharmacy. This ensures the pharmacist will be aware of all medications a senior is currently taking and allows them to screen for potential drug interactions, duplications and other medication-related issues. You can also consult the pharmacist about minimizing side effects, reducing prescription drug costs and finding appropriate OTC medication options.
Be sure to notify your loved one’s health care provider of any new or worsening side effects and lifestyle changes. This includes changes in sleeping patterns, work schedules and special diets. This will help the doctor determine if any adjustments must be made to the senior’s medication regimen. After a new drug has been added to their regimen, observe how your loved one reacts to it. Keeping a detailed record of their symptoms can help you and the doctor troubleshoot medication-related problems. If a senior’s symptoms seem unusual, severe or rare, contact their doctor, pharmacist or 911 immediately.
I’m Diana Beam, Founder of Keeping in Touch Solutions. It is my heartfelt desire for every person to live a happy and healthy life in the place they call home, no matter what their age. You can’t put a price on peace of mind for your parents and yourself. It’s priceless . . . and significant.
For that reason, the goal of every Keeping In Touch Solutions program is to provide a caring connection and service that both the elderly and their caregivers can rely on to make living that good life easier.
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