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Medication Management for Seniors and Caregivers: Tips to Prevent Misuse

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Caring for seniors is a dynamic process that involves monitoring nutrition and diet, daily exercise, and managing a list of medications. It’s quite common for caregivers and seniors to express feeling overwhelmed and at times concerned with regards to taking medicines as prescribed.

Medication Misuse 

Medications are a huge part of elderly care, unfortunately some diagnoses like Dementia can lead to accidental misuse. When caring for an aging family member, it’s important to know their current medication regimen, associated side effects and when to use the Emergency Response System!

Common Issues Causing Medication Error:

  • Vision Disturbances ~ How small is the print on the pill label and in the instruction pamphlet? Your family member may need another vision test and a stronger lens prescription or treatment for something like Cataracts or Glaucoma. Distinguishing between medications can mean the difference between taking too many pills to lower high blood pressure and causing cardiac arrest, or not taking enough medication to treat high blood pressure, leading to a hypertensive emergency.
  • Memory Loss ~ Forgetting to take medications can also cause missed doses and improper treatment. Conversely, being unable to remember if you have already taken medications and taking more can lead to accidental overdose, possibly causing someone to lose consciousness and stop breathing. Ergonomically designed pill organizers help caregivers and seniors to keep track! If you need to, set alarms or use a calendar as a friendly reminder! Develop a safe and convenient system that you’re comfortable with and works for you!
  • Finances ~ Unfortunately, some seniors can’t afford all of the medications that they need. Splitting doses to stretch medications until insurance approved refills are available, or exchanging pills that one perceives to control more aggravating symptoms than another, are sadly common with independent seniors. Talk with your physician or pharmacy! Often times they can provide generic medications, which are less expensive than certain brand names. Also, ask if your physician has any free samples to get you through to your next scheduled refill.  Financial assistance programs are out there! It just requires some online research, patience and time! Check for medication discounts directly on the manufactures’ websites, though make sure to read the fine print! There are often qualifications and time frames for coupon applicability.

If you’re caring for an aging family member and are feeling stressed or worried that your loved one isn’t properly managing their medications, consider reaching out for help thru home care or another senior living option.