Senior citizens are staying home longer than ever with the help of technology, family, and skilled home care. Many families aim to keep their aging loved ones at home for as long as possible; home is, after all, comfortable and familiar. Among other considerations, appropriate medication management is critical for maintaining the health and well-being of aging loved ones at home.
The Challenges of Medication Management
Self-management of medications can become more challenging over time. A decreased muscle tone and diseases like arthritis can make it quite a feat to get a bottle open and handle small pills. Changes in swallowing can make it difficult to get larger or whole pills down safely. Changes in diet and appetite can result in taking pills on an empty stomach and becoming ill or damaging the gut. Finally, changes in memory and cognition can interfere with a structured medication schedule. For example, a decline in vision can make it hard to read the label or tell which pill is which.
The dangers of managing medications with these limitations are great; taking the wrong drugs and failing to take medications may lead to severe complications, including death.
Simplifying and managing medication administration is critical as your loved one ages at home.
Preventing Medication Errors at Home
There are several ways you can help your loved one manage their medication administration effectively at home:
- Get organized. Review their medication list and make a schedule detailing which pills to take upon waking, at breakfast, lunch, in the afternoon, supper, or before bed. Ensure to screen for interactions between medications.
- Investigate. Look at the most recent prescription fill date and compare it to the number of pills remaining in the bottle. Does the math add up? This can help you understand how accurately your loved one has managed their medication schedule.
- Don’t forget about OTC meds. Over-the-counter medications may react with prescriptions or cause unnecessary side effects or risks.
- Talk to a pharmacist. Bring the schedule you created and the over-the-counter medications to your pharmacist for review. He or she can help you identify redundancies, interactions, and inefficiencies.
- Talk to your loved one’s physician. Are all of these prescriptions still necessary and still the best treatment option?
- Reduce complexity. With the help of a physician or pharmacist, you may be able to move dosage times to reduce complexity and make it more likely that your loved one will comply without error or omission.
- Set up meds in advance. Use a pill planner or digital medication administration system to take the burden of planning and calculating off your loved one.
- Don’t make changes to the regimen without approval. Caregivers or family members often take it upon themselves to discontinue, increase, or decrease prescription medications due to side effects or lack of results. Always consult a doctor before making changes.
- Expect your loved one to resist a little. When children care for their parents, role reversal can be challenging. Loved ones may feel you’re telling them what to do or don’t trust their ability.
- Hire a skilled home care nurse. Skilled home care health nurses can customize their services to your loved one’s level of need. They can remove the complexity by playing every role. They are the go-between who brings together the patient, the family, the doctor, and the pharmacist. Skilled home care nurses can set up medications in advance, evaluate your loved one’s compliance, initiate change, and even administer medications daily if needed.
Learn More About Skilled Home Care
To learn more about skilled home care and how it can improve medication administration for your loved one, visit the qualified staff at Evergreen Private Care today.