1. Stop by for a visit . . . and bring dinner. Life gets busy, particularly for adult children in the sandwich generation who are taking care of elderly parents and raising children. Yet, there are few things more critical for your elderly parents than getting face time with their children and grandchildren. When life gets bus
Dad cuts his daily blood pressure tablets in half to save money. Some days, Mom forgets to take her prescription drugs. The wrong medications. The wrong dosage. The wrong timing. Skipped medications or taking too much or too little can cause medical complications, reduced quality of life, or even death.
Unfortunately, for someone taking care of elderly parents, supervising medications can be the most challenging caregiving task. The nation’s seniors are particularly at risk for medication-related difficulties. Some healthcare experts rank medication problems among the top five causes of death for people over age 65 and as a source of confusion, falls, and loss of independence. The more medications a person takes, the greater likelihood of adverse drug interactions or a mix-up in dosages.
For older adults, common medication problems and prevention tips include:
- Trouble Reading Labels – For seniors with diminished eyesight, ask the pharmacist for large-print labels and instructions.
- Memory Impairment – Elders who have dementia and other cognitive issues need specific reminders for timing and dosages. Use standard pill box organizers or electronic ones with timers and rescue alerts, or seek assistance from in-home senior care providers like Right a Home.
- Financial Limitations – Some seniors on tight budgets will cut prescribed medications in half or skip doses to save money. Generic brands and 90-day supplies help reduce medication costs, and for those who meet income requirements, prescription assistance programs can help.
- Swallowing Difficulties – Asking for liquid forms of medications can ease swallowing challenges. The elderly also absorb medicines at a different rate than when they were younger. Never score, crush, chew or mix medications in liquids without first checking with the pharmacist.
- Improper Storage – Certain medications require refrigeration (insulin, eye drops, etc.). Also, exposure to extreme temperatures can alter the effectiveness of the medication or cause side effects.
For additional help to prevent medication errors, the Administration on Aging offers innovative resources and a comprehensive list of prescription-related questions to ask doctors and pharmacists.
Paul Blom, CEO
December 8, 2014
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