Anyone who supports an aging loved one is likely familiar with the overwhelming amount of medications that many seniors take in order to maintain their health. Multiple medications are often prescribed by different doctors, in addition to over the counter medications that are part of the daily routine of so many individuals. Whether your Senior is at Stanford health in Palo Alto, Kaiser in Santa Clara, or any of the other quality health networks available to Bay Area Seniors, dealing with prescriptions and medication needs can be a major consumer of your time.
Medication management is critical
Almost forty million seniors suffer from drug complications each year according to Drugwatch, with almost a quarter million of those complications being life threatening. One issue is that symptoms of complications with drug interactions can look like other common issues for seniors – fatigue, dizziness, or disorientation.
Think about it. Seniors are prone to medication problems because they are often dealing with multiple, often chronic conditions. They tend to see several doctors to help them manage these conditions. Then realize that the body chemistry actually changes as we age, and it’s clear that medication issues for seniors are a huge issue.
The other massive issue is that there are so many common, over the counter drug interactions to be concerned about. Aspirin reacts with blood thinners and some diabetes medications, antihistamines and antidepressants and react with blood pressure medications, antacids react with heart medications, etc. Or medications can interact with common foods like caffeine, alcohol, dairy, fruit juices, or even herbal supplements like ginkgo biloba.
The most common issues that pop up with seniors and medication are:
Drug side effects
Taking the medicine incorrectly by not following instructions
Forgetting to take medication
The real issue is that many of these tragedies are wholly preventable given the right amount of support in the home.
How home care and medication reminders help
Staying on top of proper dosage and timing of medication is incredibly important.
Our professional home caregivers don’t administer medications to seniors, but they can offer reminders to seniors to take their medication, they can pick up prescriptions from a drugstore in Palo Alto or a Kaiser pharmacy in San Mateo, remind seniors about proper diet, and they free up valuable time for family caregivers to better coordinate doctor’s care, including freeing up time so family members can attend a vital meeting with a Dr. at San Mateo medical center or another hospital in Menlo Park, Sunnyvale, or Santa Clara.
There are so many action steps that are important both for in home caregivers and for family caregivers to take in order to prevent medication mismanagement and potential tragedy. Here are some protocols that families can take in an effort to keep their loved ones free from medication errors, and many of these can be handled by home care providers.
Get all prescriptions from the same pharmacy
Only use medications that were prescribed for your loved one
Always check the label to ensure that it’s the right medication
Keep all medications in their original containers
Discard expired medications
Keep a constantly updated list of all medications and their dosage to have at home for all caregivers and to take to doctor’s visits.
Medication reminders from caregivers can ensure that your loved one is taking the correct dosage of their medication, that it’s taken correctly (such a with food), and the proper protocols are followed, such as not going out in the sunlight or not sleeping directly after taking it, etc. Home care workers can also help to prevent duplicate doses by logging medications and by helping to track when your loved one is taking their medications.
Though our in home caregivers don’t actually administer medication, the medication reminders that they provide are an incredibly powerful way to help prevent medication errors that could not only cost your loved one discomfort, but that could leave them in the hospital.
To learn more about NuevaCare, simply give us a call at 650-539-2000 or start a conversation using the chat box to the right. A highly trained professional from our office will contact you immediately to discuss your specific needs and to set up an free in home assessment.