Medication Mistakes Among Seniors And Tips On How To Prevent Them

Taking medication is essential to treat some health conditions if they are taken the prescribed way. However, when you skip your dose or take an overdose, the results can be deadly.

Medication nonadherence among the elderly is common. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, about 200,000 seniors are hospitalized annually because of severe drug reactions, and 50% of seniors are non-compliant with prescriptions meaning they don’t take their medication as prescribed.

Numerous reasons can cause seniors to make mistakes while taking their prescription drugs. Today, this guide highlights the common reasons seniors do not take their medication and tips on how their caregivers can help prevent them.

Memory loss

Seniors who have Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are prone to several medication management issues. Dementia patients may forget to take their medicine because they have trouble remembering when to take their doses and if they have taken it. Sometimes they can miss doses or even take a dose multiple times at once.

You can solve this issue by using a pillbox to help them track and organize their meds. There are different types of pillboxes like computerized ones that will call a designated number if they miss taking a pill on time or alarm pillboxes with automatic dispensers.

However, for this method to work, it will depend on the progression of the senior’s dementia. Patients who have advanced dementia may need someone or a caregiver to be present to give them their medication on time. In-home care service or senior living home has professionals who can provide this and many other services to help improve the lives of dementia patients independence.

Poor vision

Seniors who have a declining vision and may not read the small print on the pill bottle or differentiate between pills may make deadly medication mistakes.

You can change the labels on their pill bottles and put ones in large print that a senior with vision problems can easily read. You can also ask the pharmacy where they get their pills; some can even put labels in braille form if loss of vision is severe.

Another option you can apply to help seniors with poor vision is to use a talking medication system. They usually have microchipped label and a reader that usually scans the pill bottle and reads out loud the instructions such as the drug name, dosage, pharmacy information, refill date, and any warnings. You can buy these types of prescription bottles through larger mail-order pharmacies.

Swallowing problems

Certain health conditions such as dysphagia may cause an older person to have trouble swallowing their pills. Some seniors who experience difficulty swallowing their medication may attempt to break or mix pills in their food or drinks. This is a deadly mistake because some medications have long-lasting formulas, and their actives may be released too soon when crushed or broken. On the other hand, other medicines may not go well when mixed with food or drinks and may make the senior sick.

Ensure that you ask the doctor if certain medications can be crushed or mixed in the food to make swallowing easier for the senior. If it’s not possible, you can also request the doctor or the pharmacist if the pills can come in smaller sizes or ask for a syrup that is easier to swallow.

Loss of hearing

If your loved one is deaf or experiencing hearing loss due to age-related issues, they may have difficulties understanding the doctor’s instructions about their medication.

To counter this, you can talk to your loved one to tell the doctor they are having trouble hearing to avoid mistakes when taking their pills. Suppose they didn’t understand the doctor when explaining how to take the meds. In that case, they shouldn’t feel embarrassed to ask them to repeat the instruction until the senior understand, or if they can’t hear completely, they can have written instructions.

You can also get them hearing aids and ensure they have the hearing aids on when they go for their meds. Alternatively, you can accompany them to the doctor to ensure you get the proper instructions to avoid making mistakes.

Limited income

Most seniors live on pensions or benefits, which are fixed incomes when they retire. Some don’t have the money to afford all the medication needed. Some seniors resort to splitting dosages, taking less than the prescribed dosage, or going without taking the pills to save up on the medication.

Luckily there are options you can use to try and help seniors get the right medications. One is going for generic versions of a drug, which are usually cheaper, and the senior can get his full dose.

Another option is to search for financial assistance programs for the elderly that may help pay for prescription medicines. You can ask the pharmacist who may be aware of the manufacturer’s discount programs or ask for discounts from the pharmacy, which may significantly reduce the cost of the medicine.

Social isolation

Some seniors are lucky to live with loved ones, caregivers, or in senior living facilities where they can get help with their needs. Unfortunately, some live alone in isolation and fail to comply with their drug prescriptions most of the time.

If you have a loved one living alone and you think they may need help, you can hire a professional caregiver or take them to a home where they can be monitored and receive assistance round the clock. Such facilities help provide valuable specialization that many seniors lack. Without regular interaction with other people, a senior may feel isolated and lonely. Some even become depressed and usually fall out of routines which may cause them to stop taking their medicine.

If you have a loved one who is older and needs help with their medication, remember to always check up on them and use some of the tips mentioned above to ensure they live a healthy life and keep up with their prescription.


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