Medication helps seniors live longer and enjoy a better quality of life, but proper management of their medication is crucial. It’s probably no surprise to learn that people over the age of 65 use more prescription and over the counter (OTC) medication than younger age groups. People ages 65 and older make up 12 percent of the US population, but comprise about 36 percent of prescription medication and 38 percent of OTC use. Many seniors are also taking more herbal and dietary supplements than they have in the past — rising from 14 percent in 1998 to 63 percent in 2019.
But while medications and supplements do improve the quality of life for our older family members, it’s crucial that we manage the information and dosages of what they’re taking in order to keep them healthy. Impaired memory and loss of vision can make it difficult for seniors to remember when they’ve taken their medicine and what dosage is correct; they may also have trouble reading medication labels. In addition, many seniors see multiple health care providers, each of whom is probably prescribing medication. It can be difficult for older patients to remember the list of medications and supplements they’re taking and to mention those during their visits.
How can we help our older family members manage their medications?
First, make a complete list of all the medications (both prescription and OTC) and supplements your senior family member is taking. This list should include:
• Dosages of each medication or supplement
• The name and contact information of the health care provider who prescribed the medication
• The purpose of the medication
• When and how often to take it and at what dosage
• When refills are due
Next, read all the information on the pamphlet that came with each drug so you can be aware of possible side effects, any interactions with other drugs, and how to store the medication.
It’s also helpful to use one pharmacy, and ask the pharmacist to monitor the medicines as you purchase them.
Finally, designate someone to be the patient advocate for your loved one. This person should attend all appointments, ensure that the list of medications is always updated, and make sure that the list is shown to all health care professionals during visits.
Helping your loved one manage their meds can be complicated and time consuming. Mountain Home Care can provide assistance, including acting as a patient advocate. Call or email us, and we’ll be happy to help you create a plan for making sure your family member is managing their medication and visits to their health care providers!