Taking your prescribed medicine is important for treating temporary illnesses or keeping more chronic health conditions in health, as well as contribute overall long-term health and well-being. It can be tough to remember to take the proper prescriptions at the right time, especially if you need to take a lot of it. But taking them on time, as well as complying with prescriptions is important especially when our physical and mental faculties in our elder years begin to wear and tear.
Not only that but prescription medicines for seniors are expensive. Seriously expensive. Did you know that in the United States alone more than 125,000 people die from not properly adhering to their medications, adding approximately $100 billion in preventable additional hospitalization, emergency room, and repeated visits to the doctor. Many nursing home admissions are also due to a senior’s inability, or not adhering properly to their medication regime.
Some retirement communities and most nursing or care homes provide senior living with medications management as a service to their residents. But even the best care and the most vigilant monitoring by a caregiver will be undermined if the patient himself is not willing to take the medications.
It might seem stupid that someone would intentionally disregard the importance of taking medications, but it’s more common than you think. For example, people may think that they feel better for a moment, or don’t feel anything at all, or they hate the side effects of the medication, and stop using them altogether. You’ve done it too now haven’t you, dear reader?
The reasons for “noncompliance” can be as varied and individual as each patient, but when people wilfully change their dosages or discontinue their medications, it’s usually not because they’re uncooperative. Instead, it’s usually because they don’t fully understand how the medications work and what the health consequences are when you don’t follow the regimen correctly or discontinue it altogether.
How to manage your medications?
A) Review your aging loved one’s medications with their doctor.
Write down the names and dosages of all medications they take and how frequently they take them. Go over this list at your next appointment with your loved one’s primary care doctor. The more information your loved one’s doctor has, the more accurately they can pinpoint any potential adverse effects or drug interactions.
B) Ask questions and read medication labels
To understand dosages and learn about how it affects the body and adverse effects, read the drug label carefully. If your parent is taking a new medication, inquire with the doctor about how and when to ingest it.
C) Learn about possible drug interactions
In addition to reading medication labels, ask your loved one’s doctor if certain drugs on their list shouldn’t be taken together. Note that over-the-counter drugs and herbal supplements may also interact with some medications, so include those when reviewing your list.
Before your parent starts taking a new medication, ask the doctor about possible adverse effects. Check in with your loved one to see if they’ve seen any changes in their mood or behaviour since starting the new drug. Certain medications can affect seniors in terms of weight gain, sleep pattern, hunger, and even mental and physical coordination. Inquire with your parent’s doctor right away if they are suffering any side effects and how they can alleviated.
D) Make your loved one aware of the dangers of self-prescribing.
Your aging parent may be tempted to increase the dose of a certain medication, or they may decide to take their medication more frequently to treat a symptom faster. They may even add an over-the-counter drug that is not medically prescribe to their list of medications to get quicker relief. Self-medicating increases your loved one’s risk of overmedication and more drug interactions that can cause serious harm to their health.
E) Monitor for medication compliance
Medications only work if taken consistently and as directed by the doctor. If your aging parent is simply forgetful or is having trouble tracking their medications, a reminder system may be helpful. But those with cognitive or physical issues, such as dementia, Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s and mobility problems, need to have their medications carefully managed and monitored.
F) Minimize the number of primary care providers
Having a primary care provider can help make care coordination easier and prevent confusions. It’s also best to get all your parent’s medications from one specific pharmacy for reliability’s sake.
Whether someone forgets to take their meds or believes they don’t need them, the implications can be dangerous. Individuals receive the prescriptions they require on schedule, every day, thanks to medication management in order to maintain or improve their quality of life, and everyone on board can rest easy knowing that their loved ones are taking care of themselves proper.