Medication Management Tips
People aged 55 and older are taking advantage of greater opportunities to live healthier, more active lives than the previous generation. In most cases this includes both preventative and curative prescription medications. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 69 percent of adults aged 40 to 79 use one or more prescription medications and 22 percent use five or more. One key to continuing a healthy lifestyle is to safely manage those medications to be sure each is providing the expected health benefits.
What is Medication Management?
Medication management means making sure you take the right dose of your medication at the right time and for the fully prescribed period. It also means fully understanding what your medications are for and consulting with your physician regularly to report new or reduced symptoms or any side effects.
Managing several medications with various dosing instructions can be a challenge. It is easy to forget the afternoon doses or mix up which medications you’ve already taken for the day and which ones are left for the evening. When you throw in a prescription for a once-a-week dose or every other day, or add a short-term treatment to your regular routine, medication management can become complicated.
Five Common Medication Mistakes Among Seniors
Here are some common mistakes to avoid to make medication management easier, so you can focus on more enjoyable activities in your day.
1. Medication Interactions & Adverse Reactions
Taking two medications that adversely interact with one another is a more common mistake among people who take several medications each day. When your doctor prescribes a new medication or changes your dosage, they may not be aware of the medications you are already on, especially if they were prescribed by another physician. It is a good idea to keep a list of the medications you take in your wallet to show at each doctor visit. Using the same pharmacy consistently will also minimize your risk of adverse drug interactions.
2. Not Following a Schedule
Timing is everything in life, and with medicine. Not following the prescribed dosing schedule could put you at risk of overdose or make your medications ineffective. Setting up a consistent routine for taking your prescription medications will help you remember them each day and keep your dosage constant.
3. Improper dosage
Certain medications only work in the proper dosage while others can be dangerous if you get too much within a short time period. The best way to be sure you are getting the proper dosage of each medication is to follow the doctor’s written instructions carefully and consider using a tracking system.
4. Modifying the Drug Format
Crushing those big pills to get them down easier might seem like a good idea, but it is not. By changing the format of your medication, you potentially alter the dosage, which could be risky. If you struggle to swallow pills you are prescribed, try asking the pharmacist for a solution. The medication may be available in a different format or the pharmacist might tell you that it is safe to cut or crush your pills.
5. Improper Storage
Heat and humidity can affect medications, so they should be stored properly. Rather than the bathroom or kitchen, store prescription medications in a dry place that maintains a constant temperature, like your bedroom.
Safety Tips for Managing Your Meds
Proper medication management for older adults can be accomplished by avoiding common mistakes and adhering to these tips:
1. Presort pills into other dispensers
Count out your pills for the week, separating them into boxes marked “morning” and “evening” by the day of the week. You’ll know if you forgot to take your morning medication if the pills are still in the box for that day.
2. Schedule frequent visits with doctors to ensure medication is being administered correctly
Even medication for chronic conditions should be reviewed frequently to be sure the dosing is still correct. Over time, your condition may change or a new form of treatment could become available.
3. Learn which medications should be taken together
Some of your medications may cause adverse reactions when taken at the same time. Ask your pharmacist to review all of your medications whenever you get a new one to find out if any of them need to be taken separately.
4. Set a daily schedule and reminder for yourself
Everyone gets busy and forgets to take medication. Instead of counting on your memory, set an alarm on your phone to go off every day when it is time to take your pills. This tip may be especially helpful for that mid-day dose.
5. Dispose of older drugs to ensure none are accidentally taken
When your doctor tells you to stop taking one of your medications, it is important to dispose of the remaining pills. It is easy to fall back into old habits and start taking them again before you realize your mistake.
6. Learn if medication will need to be taken with solids or liquids
Ask your doctor or pharmacist for specific instructions when you get new prescriptions. Some medications should be taken with food and others on an empty stomach.
7. Monitor medication compliance
Following your doctor’s instructions about when and how much of each medication to take is crucial. Keep track of any dosage changes in writing and refer to them each time you count out your weekly pills.
Enjoy your Embark independent living lifestyle to the fullest. Stay healthy by safely managing your meds.