Senior care | December 22, 2021
Living independently is important to all of us, especially to seniors. As they age, seniors face many challenges, such as losing a spouse and elderly friends, changes in mental and physical abilities, and other lifestyle changes. Living in a familiar and comfortable environment becomes essential to a senior’s happiness and feelings of well-being. As the relative, friend or caregiver of an elderly, it is important for you to help seniors reach this goal.
The area that deserves the most attention with seniors is managing the medications they take. The number of medications seniors are required to take increases with their age.
Taking the medications is essential. However, it is equally important for seniors and their family caregivers to understand what medicine the senior takes, to become knowledgeable about side effects, and also to decide whether there appear to be negative effects of taking different types of medications at the same time. Mismanagement of medications can be dangerous and sometimes even life-threatening.
Medication mismanagement can cause obvious problems but may not be of great concern if it does not happen often. But, taking some types of medicines together can cause critical adverse reactions. If a senior is needed to take painkillers, addiction can raise its ugly head. For these reasons it becomes necessary to keep seniors well informed of the risks mismanagement of medications can cause and to keep the doctor informed all of medications the senior is taking and of any apparent side effects.
Dizziness, nausea, confusion and memory issues, increased falls, uneven sleeping patterns, incontinence, and even hallucinations are some of the signs of medication misuse. Malnutrition can also indicate improper medicine intake, this is because confused seniors may not eat properly. Seniors who are addicted to painkillers may become very secretive about their use of those drugs and seek prescriptions from doctors and pharmacies.
Seniors who have trouble managing medications are not alone. Research indicates that approximately 40% of people entering nursing homes do so because they are unable to self-medicate in their homes. In addition, 30% of all hospital admissions for people over age 65 are directly attributable to missed doses or overdoses of medication.
With these statistics in mind, the medical community has offered solutions and advice to help seniors manage medications in their own homes. When family members visit, it is an opportunity to remind the loved ones to take their medicines at specified times. Seniors are encouraged to keep details of the times they take their prescribed medications. Doing this will help to decide the time of their next dose and even prevent over-dosage. Home health care companies, such as Comfort Keepers Cambridge, offer solutions in the form of medication reminder devices. The Safety Choice® Medication System by Comfort Keepers Cambridge stores medicines and dispenses the exact dosage into a drawer at the bottom of the unit. If a dose is missed, the unit itself places a call to a designated Comfort Keeper or other contact persons who can then call to remind loved ones to take their medicine.
The use of one or all of these methods can assist seniors who take multiple medications. It is also important to make sure their doctors know of all medications seniors take so they can coordinate care and prescribe additional medicine when needed, that will not cause adverse effects when combined with other medicines. Others should keep a close eye on seniors who take medications to ensure seniors are properly administering their meds.
Research shows seniors who live alone are more likely to misuse medication management. Knowledge is power, but control is key concerning medication management. Helping seniors to properly manage their medication is helping them achieve their ultimate goal of living healthy, independent lives in their own homes for as long as possible.
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