1 in 6 Seniors Take Too Many Prescription Meds

By April 6, 2016Archives
Two eldelry women enjoying a warm drink

It’s a common sight; a weekly medication planner with tiny bins marked morning noon and night for all seven days of the week. It’s a sad sign, and yet a necessary tool for seniors taking numerous medications. Studies show that 1 in 6 seniors take too many medications. What does that mean? It means that the number of medications they are taking begin to pose a risk of adverse interactions, resulting in worse, rather than better, health.

The healthcare system at large is trying to improve coordination between physicians in order to improve medication protocols and patient safety. However, the person prescribed all the medications remains at the center of that communication effort. That means that caregivers, senior, friends and/or family members need to know exactly what medications the senior is taking, in order to properly deliver that information to all of the senior’s physicians.

The first step is to create a list of every medication the senior is taking: name, dose, frequency, prescribing physician and pharmacy. The list should include prescription medications and over the counter drugs – whether it’s Tylenol, Omega-3, fish oil or a multi-vitamin. Every doctor treating the senior should receive a copy of this list. They will be eternally grateful to receive an up to date, accurate list! Doctors don’t talk to one another and electronic medical records don’t always capture every drug that is prescribed. A complete list can help the physician to avoid dangerous interactions when prescribing medications.

LivHOME’s Care Management services provide clinically trained staff to provide medication oversight in the home. Studies show that medication adherence is the best way to improve senior health and prevent hospital readmissions. Our staff will work with seniors to ensure they are taking their medications properly.

Seniors should not be afraid to reveal to their doctors, the over the counter medications they are taking. This discussion gives physicians the opportunity to educate the senior about what is necessary to take, as opposed to what the senior thinks is necessary. Herbal supplements may seem benign, but they can have toxic interactions with prescription medications. The adverse interactions can worsen current health conditions, or cause life-threatening events with the heart or vascular system.

In a way this problem seems rather ironic; medicine causing problems instead of solving them. However, in a day and age when pharmaceutical companies are very aggressive in their marketing, and herbal supplements being marketed as purely beneficial, it pays to be vigilant and wary of any over the counter medication. Physicians remain the best and highest source of information, whether it is for high dose prescription painkillers or vitamins. It pays to be knowledgeable, be aware and be smart when it comes to any pill in a bottle.

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