Wednesday Workshop – Helping Elderly Parents with Their Medications
Hello and welcome to our Wednesday Workshop. The importance of medication management cannot be overstated, especially when it comes to caring for the elderly, who often take multiple medications simultaneously to treat different conditions and symptoms. In official terminology, this is called “polypharmacy”. While we’ve quickly become used to the idea of our aging parents taking more and more vitamins and pills each day, polypharmacy has a number of potential health hazards, including overmedication and dangerous drug interactions.
What can be done to help older adults take medications safely?
Besides taking care to avoid some of the most common medication mistakes, such as taking drugs incorrectly or taking more than is prescribed, many caregivers and seniors rely on other sources of help to stay on track. Pill organizers, medication management devices like pill dispensers, and even reminder services can be useful tools for some. However, nothing substitutes for responsible caregivers and being proactive about the drugs our loved ones are taking. Here is some advice to keep in mind:
- Make sure the pharmacy label says why you are taking the prescription
This is particularly important for older adults who are taking multiple medications, to ensure that they know what each medication is for and how to take it properly.
- Create and maintain an up-to-date medication list
American Nurse Today says, “keep an accurate list of all medications, including generic and brand names, dosages, dosing frequency, and reason for taking the drug.” This can help reduce the risk of polypharmacy.
- Bring a medications list – or the medications themselves – to the doctor with you
Take your list of prescription medications – and a list of over-the-counter drugs and any herbal supplements you might be taking – and bring it to the doctor’s office with you, or to a pharmacist. The more information your provider has, the more accurately they can pinpoint any potential adverse effects or drug interactions.
- Talk to the pharmacist and ask questions
If you have any concerns at all about the combination of medications you or your loved one is taking, or how a new medication will affect you, ask your doctor or pharmacist. Learn about the potential side effects, dosage, proper storage, and anything else that will help you take medications correctly. You should also talk to your provider if you are thinking of stopping a medication.
- Know the side effects of your medications
Knowing the potential side effects and interactions can help you stay alert to any health changes that may occur in response to a new medication or combination of medications. If you do notice health changes, contact a physician right away.
- Tell your provider about any previous adverse drug effects
This one might go without saying, but if you or your loved one has had a bad reaction to any medication in the past, let your doctor and pharmacist know.
To learn more or to speak with us here at the Alzheimer’s Care Resource Center
Feel free to call us at (877) 760-9199 or email us below. Thanks for watching today’s Wednesday Workshop and we’ll see you again next week!