According to a study in JAMA Internal Medicine, about 80% of older adults regularly take at least two prescriptions, and 36% regularly take at least five prescription drugs. Seniors in nursing homes are prescribed an average of seven to eight drugs. These percentages don’t include over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, and supplements.
Failing to take their medication in a timely manner safely is an ever-present problem for seniors, and it’s growing worse as our population ages. Fortunately, you can take steps to help your loved one get organized and improve how they are managing their medications.
Here are seven tips to help reduce or prevent medication-related health dangers for an aging adult:
1. Review Medications With Their Doctor
Make a list of the medications they take and how often they take them. The next time you see your parent’s primary care physician, go over this list with them. The more information the doctor has, the more accurately they can recognize potential adverse effects from drug interaction.
2. Read the Labels
The label will help you understand dosages and the medication’s potential side effects and interactions. Read the label on over-the-counter medications, as well as prescription drugs. If you have questions about what you’ve read, call your loved one’s pharmacist or doctor.
3. Learn About Possible Interactions
Ask their doctor if there are certain drugs on the list of meds they’re taking that shouldn’t be taken together. Be sure to include herbal supplements or over-the-counter drugs your loved one is taking since those can have adverse side effects when taken in tandem with prescription drugs.
4. Know the Side Effects
After asking their doctor about potential side effects, regularly ask your loved one if they’ve noticed feeling any different since starting the new medication. Possible side effects can include changes in sleep patterns, weight, hunger levels, or balance. Let their doctor know about any side effects your senior is experiencing.
5. Be Aware of Medications Harmful to Seniors
The American Geriatrics Society has compiled a list of meds that older adults should use with cauti