Are Your Parents Taking their Meds?
You might assume that your aging parents are taking their medication as directed, but you may be in for an unpleasant surprise. People over 65 generally take several prescription and over-the-counter medications every single day, and trying to keep track of it all can prove to be a major challenge for aging seniors.
Part of the problem is that seniors often fill their prescriptions without truly understanding what the medication is and what the medication does. They may run at risk of health issues if they take the wrong dosage, skip a day here and there or combine the drug along with herbal supplements and non-prescription drugs. Seniors living at home can benefit from a home health caregiver who can keep seniors on track by making sure they take their meds as prescribed.
Be in the Know about Medications
Make sure your parents understand their medications. They should know the name of the medication, the dosage and frequency, the prescribing doctor and any special instructions such as taking the drug with food, at a particular time of day, or avoiding alcohol and driving. Seniors should also be on the lookout for dangerous side effects, and they should keep an eye out for expiration dates. If they are having trouble understanding their medication and they are becoming confused about when to take it, it might be time for a home health caregiver to provide oversight.
Keep a Current List of Meds Handy
You, the in-home caregiver and your parent should have an up-to-date list of medications, including supplements and over-the-counter drugs such as laxatives and antacids. Include the dosage and frequency, and be sure to change the information if the prescription changes. It is important to use the same pharmacy for all prescription medications so it can pick up on harmful drug interactions. Some pharmacies offer a synchronized refill program where all prescriptions are refilled on the same day for convenience and to avoid confusion. Encourage your parents to carry a copy of the list of medications in their wallet in case of an emergency.
Maintain Good Records
Medical issues tend to increase as people age, and it is important to keep good medical records to keep track of the following:
- ongoing conditions
- routine testing
- family health history
Here are some useful tips for taking medication properly for optimum health:
- Use an Organizer: 7-day, 2-week and 30-day pill organizers are useful tools to stay on track with medication. The in-home caregiver can alert you when the organizer needs to be refilled or when prescriptions run out.
- Get Into a Routine: It is a good idea to get into the habit of taking your pills at the same time every day. Many people take their pills right after breakfast to avoid side effects from taking medication on an empty stomach.
- Ask for a Review: Take your vials of medicine to the doctor every so often and ask for a review to make sure you are not mixing medications that can have harmful interactions. Your doctor will also check the dosage and take over the counter pharmaceuticals into consideration, like vitamins and supplements. A careful review will also give your doctor the opportunity to make any changes that may be necessary.
- Learn About the Effects of Food and Supplements: Some foods should be avoided when taking certain medications. According to the US Food and Drug Administration, alcohol affect a wide variety of drugs, and grapefruit juice should be avoided when taking blood pressure lowering drugs. Dietary supplements like St. John’s Wort and Ginseng can also interfere with the effects of some prescription drugs.
Home Helpers of South Shore has a pharmacist on staff that can review your medications or answer medication related questions for free ! Give a call today @ 781-585-1244 to learn more.
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