As a caregiver, it is important to understand the importance of prescription medicine safety for your loved one. According to Dr. Monique Sheppard of the National Medicare Education Program, half of all older adults take one or more prescription medications on a regular basis. Doctors, pharmacists and other healthcare professionals can help caregivers better understand the benefits and risks associated with the medicines that your loved one takes, but it is important to pay extra attention to prescription medicine safety for seniors. In addition to seeking advice and information from healthcare professionals, doing your own homework on your loved one’s prescription medication is a great way to become a more informed caregiver, especially if your loved one is receiving home care.
If you are a caregiver for a senior, there are some prescription medicine safety concerns that you should be aware of. Seniors have unique prescription medication needs compared to younger adults and children, primarily because of the difference in body composition and the diseases that are more likely to affect seniors. Seniors are also more likely to suffer from chronic conditions that require regular medication. Furthermore, they often have several prescription medications to take. In order to ensure prescription medicine safety, many seniors will need the help of a caregiver to help organize prescription medicine, assist in remembering when to take them, and still be on the lookout for how prescription medications interact with each other.
Prescription medications tend to have a higher retention in a senior’s body, which means that their effects can be stronger. As people age, their metabolism slows and the absorption of prescription medications is altered. Although a doctor will adjust the dosage to reflect a senior’s metabolism, it’s still important to be aware of prescription medicine safety by being on the lookout for interactions. Seniors and their caregivers must be clear with their doctors and pharmacists about all medications they are taking in order to help a health professional exercise prescription medicine safety by making sure that the prescription medication combinations are safe.
Seniors also need to ensure that if they wear corrective eyewear, they should wear their glasses when taking prescription medication. By doing this, they can better exercise prescription medicine safety by correctly following dosing directions and be properly aware of any cautions or interactions for the prescription medication.
Specific prescription medication needs of seniors lead to the necessity for caregivers to assist in stocking and organizing a medicine cabinet. Given the large amount of prescription medication that a senior may be taking, a medicine cabinet may ultimately be stocked with many strong and potentially dangerous prescription medications if misused. While it’s vital that seniors take their prescription medication as directed throughout each day, it’s just as important that prescription medications are stored safely; especially if your loved one suffers from Alzheimer’s or dementia. Seniors’ prescription medications can be highly toxic if taken incorrectly, making prescription medicine safety an even more important concern. Be aware that although pill boxes are an excellent way to keep prescription medication organized, the label from the original bottle often contains important information related to expiration date, dosage, and interactions.
So as a caregiver for a senior receiving home care, be aware of these prescription medicine safety concerns. Help your loved one stay healthy by assisting in organization, providing reminders to take prescription medication, double-checking the safety of medicine interactions, throwing away old and expired medications, and helping your loved one organize their medicine cabinet. By helping your senior loved one with these important steps, you can help ensure prescription medicine safety as a caregiver.