Adverse effects of medications are especially prominent in older adults as a result of age-related physiological changes, the presence of multiple chronic diseases, and polypharmacy (the simultaneous use of multiple drugs by a single patient). These factors greatly increase medication-related problems in this population, such as adverse drug reactions, drug-drug interactions, and drug ineffectiveness.
Many of these medication-related issues are preventable. The elderly population consumes 34% percent of all prescription medications. Because older adults often take many drugs, they are particularly vulnerable to drug-drug interactions. This population may also use medicinal herbs and other dietary supplements and may not tell their health care providers. For these reasons, it’s especially important that older adults are taking their medications correctly and safely.
Here’s what you can do to help prevent medication-related problems:
Ask questions about each medication.
Be sure that the information comes from a trusted source, such as a physician or pharmacist.
Ensure that healthcare providers have a current list of ALL medications.
This includes, vitamins, dietary supplements, and medicinal herbs.
Use all medications as directed consistently.
Organizational devices such as pill boxes and medication reminders can help patients stick to their regimens, especially more complex ones. Happier at Home can provide a medication administration machine to facilitate this as well.
Document all symptoms.
Address them with a medical professional. Assume that any new changes are a medication side effect until proven otherwise.
If cost is an issue...
Ask your doctor about options for reducing medications, or at least switching to less expensive alternatives.
Avoid confusion as to what the older adult is actually taking.
Be sure to let your PCP know if you or your loved one hasn’t filled a prescription due to cost, or hasn’t been taking a medication for any reason.
One of the ways to help prevent medication-related problems in the elderly is to use a medication administration machine
. Happier at Home can provide this service to help improve medication adherence and reduce the risk of medication-related problems. Our caregivers can also help by providing medication reminders.