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Medication Problems that are More Common Among Seniors

March 15, 2016

Medication Problems that are More Common Among Seniors

Nearly 92% of older adults have a chronic condition and 77% of them have at least two. Illness often increases the need for multiple prescription medications, which in turn leads to a greater risk for mistakes and medication mismanagement.

Despite these concerns, medications are an important factor for improving the lives of older adults in the Hoosier State. Knowing what the potential problems might be and finding ways to safely manage a senior’s medication schedule is the key.

8 Potential Medication Problems Common among Older Adults

  1. Drug Interactions

    Seniors taking multiple medications are at risk for negative drug interactions or ineffectiveness. Hospitalization rates from adverse drug effects are four times higher in senior patients (about 17%) than younger patients (4 %).

  2. Drug and Disease Interactions

    Chronic health conditions can cause negative interactions with prescribed medications. Be sure to monitor and report new symptoms to their prescribing physician. He or she might want to adjust the dosage or try a different prescription all together.

  3. Trouble Reading Labels

    Aging frequently causes vision loss. It can create risks for safely managing medications. If the senior you love can’t read the label on a prescription bottle, call the pharmacist. Most pharmacies can use large print labels to make it easier and safer for older eyes.

  4. Unintended Overdosing

    Dosage concerns increase when an aging loved one takes more than one medication, whether it is a prescription medicine or an over-the-counter one. Medications may interact and cause problems for a senior. Body changes, such as weight loss, can lead to an unintentional overdose.

  5. Lack of Communication among Prescribing Physicians

    If multiple physicians are prescribing medications, the chances of a negative interaction increase. Technological advances in pharmacies help combat these errors, but they aren’t foolproof. Help your senior loved one avoid errors by keeping a list of their medications so you can share them with each physician.

  6. Medication Storage

    Many prescriptions require specific temperature and light conditions. If you’re not aware of what these are for your senior loved one’s prescriptions, ask their pharmacist. In general, you should avoid storing medications in rooms with high humidity.

  7. Physical Limitations

    Older adults with arthritis may find it difficult to open a traditional pill bottle. Pill packs may be a better option. These are easier to open and developed specifically for seniors. Swallowing difficulties can be another physical condition that makes medication compliance a struggle. And it is more common as we age. It sometimes leads older adults to avoid taking an important medication if the tablet or capsule is too large and they are afraid they will choke. Talk with the pharmacist to review other options.

  8. Memory Impairments

    Whether it’s due to dementia or another health condition, an older adult may have memory loss that increases their risk of medication management. Set up a log of your loved one’s medications and encourage them to mark down when they take each dose.

    Technology to Help with Medication Management

    Finally, there are a few options that might help your family with medication management.

    • Simple Meds: Indianapolis-based Simple Meds is a prescription organization service that delivers pill packs right to the senior’s home.
    • Philips Medication Dispensing Service: This makes it easy for seniors to understand what medication to take and when.
    • MedMinder: This system alerts older adults that it is time for a dosage with various ringtones, alerts and lights.

    For more advice on caregiving and senior care, be sure to follow Five Star Senior Living’s Indiana blog.