Successful Aging Resources
Medications Errors: What Indiana Caregivers Should Know
September 4, 2015
If you are the adult child or family caregiver of an Indiana senior loved one, you may soon find yourself trying to help them safely manage their medications. Seniors are often prescribed multiple medications to control chronic health conditions. Almost 90% of older adults take at least one daily medication and 41% take five or more. As the number of medicines they are juggling increases, so does the risk for mistakes.
For older adults who have recently been discharged from an Indiana hospital or seniors who have memory loss, medication management can be even more challenging. According to the Institute of Medicine, medication mistakes and side effects cause 770,000 people to be sent to the emergency department of a hospital each year. It is also one of the reasons older adults move to an Indiana senior living community
. They need help to safely manage their medications.
Five Potential Problems for Seniors Managing Multiple Medications
Some of the mistakes older adults make with medicine often include:
Medication Management Resources
- Drug interactions and adverse reactions. As we age, our bodies process medications differently. It puts seniors at greater risk for accidental overdose, drug interactions and adverse reactions. One way to try to avoid that risk is by making sure each physician has an updated medication list that includes over-the-counter medicines. Filling prescriptions at the same pharmacy also helps because they can alert you to potential drug interactions.
- Incorrect dosage. When a senior takes multiple medications several times a day, keeping the dose of each one straight can be tough. They can easily take too much of one and not enough of another.
- Mixing up the time. Medications for coronary artery disease and other chronic health conditions are time sensitive. It is important that they be taken on time every time. Seniors sometimes forget to take a dose or take dosages too close together. Either one can create a health risk.
- Modifying medication. Some aging-related health conditions make swallowing more difficult. Seniors who are afraid of choking often smash or cut up their medicine. With some medications, however, altering the format can change the time release component. That can cause problems. Check with the pharmacist before doing anything to change the format of a medication.
- Medication storage. Not storing medications at the right temperature is a common mistake. Most often because people store most of their medicines in the bathroom or kitchen. The temperature and humidity fluctuates widely in both of these rooms. Instead, a better choice to store medications is in a drawer in the bedroom.
Fortunately, there are a variety of senior-friendly technologies that can help older adults in the Hoosier state stay safely on track with their medicines. Some of the more established ones that earn good reviews from families include:
We hope this information makes it easier to spot any problems that might put your older loved one at risk for a medication mistake, and offers you a few safe solutions to consider.