Persons over the age of 65 make up over 13 percent of the population of the United States, but they receive more than 30 percent of prescriptions filled. Seniors in general have more medical problems that require them to take medications, sometimes for numerous conditions. In the U.S. each year, almost 100,000 people above the age of 65 years are admitted to hospitals because of emergencies caused by adverse drug events. According to the study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine by the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, of the thousands of medications available, it is a small group of blood thinners and diabetes medications that causes two-thirds of all emergency hospitalizations.
Medication management may become a challenge if memory becomes an issue. Incidents of over and under medicating may be of serious consequence. Malnutrition can also indicate improper medicine administration. Signs of errors in medication dosing and/or side effects include:
· Changes in mental functioning, such as memory, alertness, reaction time, energy level.
· Changes in heart rate and blood pressure, with dizziness or light-headedness,
· Drying effects like constipation, dry mouth, blurred vision, urinary retention,
· Movement problems such as pacing, rigid arms or legs, problems with walking, falling,
· Troubled sleeping patterns, incontinence, hallucinations.
Symptoms as these should be discussed with a physician.
Seniors who have trouble successfully managing medications are not alone. In fact, research indicates that approximately 40 percent of people entering nursing homes do so because they are unable to self-medicate in their homes. In addition, 30 percent 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 advice and other solutions to help seniors manage medications in their own homes. When family members visit, it is an opportunity to observe whether medication is being taken at designated times. If possible, seniors are encouraged to keep logs of the times they take their medications in order to keep track, determine the time of their next dose and to prevent over-dosage. Home health care companies, such as Comfort Keepers, offer solid solutions in the form of medication reminder devices. The Safety Choice TabSafe Medication System by Comfort Keepers stores medication and dispenses the proper dosage into a locked drawer at the bottom of the unit. If a dose is missed, the unit places a call to designated Comfort Keeper or other contact person who can then call to remind loved ones to take their medicine. If no one is reached, the process prompts a visit to the senior.
The use of one or all of these strategies can assist seniors who take multiple medications.
It is also essential to make sure their doctors know of all medications seniors take so they can coordinate care. When visiting the doctor, don’t rely on memory or lists. Bring in all prescriptions in the last prescription bottle given by the pharmacy. This will give the doctor all the necessary information regarding the medication.
Control and awareness is key regarding medication management. The reward in helping seniors 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. FBN
About Comfort Keepers
Cindy Harris is the owner of Comfort Keepers. With over 600 independently owned and operated locations, Comfort Keepers is a leader in in-home senior care to promote independent living. Flagstaff: 928-774-0888, 214 N. Sitgreaves St., Flagstaff.