Why are Seniors at Higher Risk for Medication Errors?

If you are the adult child of a Michigan senior, at some point you will likely find yourself helping them manage their medical care. Older adults often live with multiple health conditions which can require them to take a variety of medications. In fact, on average, adults between the ages of 65 and 69 take nearly 14 prescriptions per year. And seniors aged 80 to 84 take an average of 18 prescriptions per year.

The Statistics on Medication Mistakes among Seniors

For older adults who have recently been discharged from the hospital and for seniors with memory loss, managing medications can be even more difficult. According to the Institute of Medicine, 770,000 older adults end up in a hospital emergency department every year. It is also one of the top reasons many older adults choose to move to a Michigan assisted living community. They need assistance with managing medication.

What can you do help the Michigan senior you love safely manage their medications?

Begin by making yourself aware of the potential problems a senior might encounter when trying to stay on track with their medication schedule.

Five Top Mistakes Seniors Make with Medications

Some of the most common mistakes older adults make are:

 

  1. Keep an eye on the clock. Medications for health conditions like diabetes, coronary artery disease and other chronic health conditions are time sensitive. Each dose must be taken at the right time. Seniors may forget to take a dose or take dosages too close together. Both mistakes can have serious health consequences.
  2. Incorrect dosage. When a senior takes a variety of different medicines each day, keeping track of each dosage amount can be challenging. This is especially true if an older adult has vision loss that makes reading the labels on prescription bottles difficult. They make take too much of one and not enough of another.
  3. Drug reactions. As we age, our bodies metabolize medications differently. Many times older adults need a smaller dose than younger. It puts our seniors at greater risk for an accidental overdose or an adverse reaction. One step you can take to minimize this risk for your senior loved one is to make sure each of their physicians has an updated medication list that includes over-the-counter medicines too. It also helps to have all prescriptions filled at the same pharmacy. Most pharmacies have technology that can alert you to potential drug interactions
  4. Modifying medication. Some health conditions that are more common among older adults can cause difficulty swallowing. It might cause a senior to become fearful of choking. This often leads older adults to cut their pills in half or smash them up to eat in food. Some medications aren’t effective if the format is altered. Those with a time release component may actually be harmful. Talk with your aging loved one’s pharmacist to see if their medication can be altered in format or if there is another solution.
  5. Storing medication. Most adults don’t realize how important it is to store medications at the right temperature. Many people store their medicine in the bathroom or kitchen because it is easier to access water. Experts say these may actually be the worst rooms in the house. Because the temperature and humidity fluctuate in both rooms, a safer option is be to store medicine bottles in a drawer in the bedroom.

 

Technology to Help Seniors Manage Medication

The good news is that technology has helped make medication management easier than it used to be. From apps like MediSafe to more sophisticated systems such as Philips Medication Dispensing Service, there are a variety of tech solutions seniors and family caregivers can make use of each day.

We hope this information allows you to spot potentials problems that might put your Michigan senior loved one at risk, and offer you a few solutions to consider.

 

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