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Blog Feature

By: Chelsea Sayegh on October 4th, 2018

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The Importance of Senior Medication Management

Aging & Caregiving | medication management

In today’s age, many seniors are living at home alone. Some may be thriving – they live independently, can cook, clean, drive, socialize and are as sharp as a tack. This is the ultimate goal: to stay in the family home for the rest of their life. However, the reality is that most seniors don’t thrive at home in their later years and although family members chip in and offer their assistance, the quality and consistency may lack. Medication management is something that should not be taken lightly, as it ensures the good health of your loved one. Sadly, without proper education and training, medications are often mismanaged, or dosages are skipped altogether.

At assisted living communities, your loved one is guaranteed the care they need to thrive in their golden years. This article will break down the importance of senior medication management and options you have when it comes to care.

According to the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists (ASCP), individuals 65-69 years old take nearly 14 prescriptions per year while seniors aged 80-84 take an average of 18 prescriptions per year. These drugs can literally be lifesavers for someone with short-term or chronic illness, injury or medical condition. Taken properly, medications can reduce hospital visits and dramatically improve a senior’s quality of life.

Healthcare and pharmaceutical fields are booming, with many medications available to help aging individuals manage their increasing care needs. With this, though, comes a rising risk of medication misuse. There are several ways medications can be misused and we will cover just a few.

Overdosing

We all think “it won’t happen to me or my loved one,” but in reality, overdoses can happen more easily than you may think, especially with stronger drugs like anti-anxiety medication or painkillers. Taking too much medication can cause serious injury or death to seniors.

Taking the Wrong Medication

Let’s face it. Many pills look alike. There’s little blue ones, white ones, tablets or capsules and although various medications have very different purposes, they’re easy to confuse with one another, especially if they’re packaged in generic prescription bottles. Taking the wrong medication can be very dangerous for seniors, as this means they could be taking too much of one medication but not enough of another. They could be taking one at night that should be taken in the morning or one that should be absorbed with food on an empty stomach. When seniors have dementia or memory impairment, the chances of confusing medications with one another increases tremendously.

Medicine Interactions

With older senior taking an average of 18 medications a year, there’s bound to be a time when medicines are taken during the same timeframe. Does your family know which drugs shouldn’t interact with others? Side effects from drug interactions can be severe. Make sure you know exactly what you’re doing or have a professional plan out a medication schedule for your loved one.

A lot can go wrong with medication management if your loved one is living at home alone. Luckily, there are a few options that can give you peace of mind.

Homecare Agency

You can hire professionals to visit your Mom or Dad and assist them in managing their medications. They’ll help pour and administer medications as well as assist your loved one with other care needs (showering/dressing/etc). You’ll need to determine how often an aid would need to come in. If they come in the morning, who’s going to make sure your parent takes their evening medication? Ideally, you’d want a 24-hour aid to ensure your love one is always taking the proper medication at the correct times, but a 24-hour aid can be very costly.

Medication Management System

If your loved one is fully independent and is doing great living on their own, but you want to make sure they’re taking the right medications at the right time, you can look into various medication management systems. These technologies offer automatic pill dispensers and organizers which can help them determine what pills need to be taken when. However, if your loved one has memory loss, this may not be the best option for you.

Assisted Living 

Assisted living is our top recommended choice for your loved one struggling to manage their own medications. Not only is there a trained caregiving team to pour and administer medications daily, nurses access resident needs and consistently monitor behaviors and changes in health (mentally and physically). This can be extremely helpful when reassessing medication dosages. Furthermore, not only do assisted living communities provide wonderful care service, they also provide 3 meals a day, housekeeping, transportation and many social opportunities. Assisted living allows your loved one to overlook the challenges of aging and enjoy their life.

Medication management is a meticulous job and should be taken very seriously. If you’re overwhelmed in your ability to care for your loved one or concerned that they’re misusing medication, you should seek help right away. Although your loved one is most likely reluctant to leave their home, making a move to assisted living could be the smart choice. Call around to different assisted living communities near you and ask them about how their caregiving team handles medication management.

If you’re in the very early stages of looking for an assisted living community, we suggest you download this resource, “10 Things Family Members Really Want to Know About Assisted Living,” for answers to those hard-to-ask questions family members have.  

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About Chelsea Sayegh

I started working as a Marketing Coordinator for United Methodist Homes in October of 2016. I work on public relations, website management and community planning for their award winning independent and assisted living communities. As a graduate of Ursinus College with a degree in Media and Communications and a passion for serving nonprofits, United Methodist Homes has become my home away from home. I spend my days working in a community filled with smiling faces, helpful hands and wonderful residents. I have a passion for assisting seniors and take great pride in being able to promote a company with such a positive mission and values. As an individual committed to learning and growing, I have jumped right into this exciting career!

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