My mom is taking an increasing number of medications, and it is getting hard to keep track of what she has taken, what needs to be refilled and if they are causing complications. Do you have any tips for managing it all?
Today’s medications can help many people live longer, more fulfilling lives, but there are substantial risks when prescriptions are not managed carefully.
Studies show that many drug-related problems are predictable and preventable. Pharmacists, particularly those trained in “senior care pharmacy,” a practice focused on serving older adults, can help reduce side effects and maximize the benefits of medications.
Here are some tips to help your loved one prevent adverse side effects from
Take note if your loved one:
• Takes five or more medications and/or 12 or more doses of medication daily
• Takes medications for three or more medical conditions
• Receives prescriptions regularly from more than one physician
• Has prescriptions filled at more than one pharmacy
• Has difficulty taking medication as directed
• Uses a medication without knowing its purpose
Be sure to:
• Keep an up-to-date medication list. Include all prescription and non-prescription medications; include herbal supplements and vitamins. Share this list with your loved one’s physicians.
• Ask questions. Talk to your loved one’s physicians and pharmacists about prescriptions. Write down questions for each doctor’s appointment. Discuss new non-prescription drugs or herbal supplements before taking them.
• Ensure your loved one takes medication only as directed.
• Report new problems. Tell a pharmacist or physician about new problems experienced after starting a different medication.
• Shop at one pharmacy. This allows the pharmacist to accurately assess potential drug interactions and problems.
• Remember that seniors often suffer different side effects than younger patients do. These may include confusion, falls, incontinence, insomnia, memory loss and drowsiness. Don’t simply mistake these symptoms as part of aging; these symptoms require identification, inspection and close monitoring.
For more on medication management, visit liftcaregiving.com.
Kim Cappuzzo, Clinical Assistant Professor in VCU’s Geriatric Pharmacotherapy Program, contributed to this article.