When it comes to seniors and medication, there are a number of factors you need to consider in order to keep them safe and healthy. Managing their medications is one critical aspect of the equation and that alone can be it’s own difficult challenge.
But even when those medications are being taken properly it can lead to some potentially serious issues, which could prove dangerous or possibly fatal if left unchecked.
Medications are often a crucial component of life for many senior citizens. As we get older, our bodies break down and vital systems start to fail. We become more frail and prone to illness and that usually means we need to take prescription medicines to help manage these various afflictions and diseases.
Many of these medications can be strong and have powerful side-effects which can also lead to seniors facing potentially serious consequences as their balance and consciousness are affected. Drug interactions are also a major concern because certain prescription combinations, even combining a medication with some types of supplements and over the counter medicines, can prove damaging or even deadly.
One of the leading causes of emergency calls to senior care services is complications from drug interactions and immediate intervention is absolutely critical to save a life.
In order to help keep seniors safe and healthy, here are five common medication issues to look out for:
1. Side Effects
These can range from the minor to the significant and while your senior’s doctor should explain all the potential side effects before prescribing the medication. But even when those side effects are fully known ahead of time, they can still be substantially impactful and the severity somewhat unexpected.
Certain medications are more likely to have specific side effects in all those who take them, but these symptoms can be particularly severe in seniors due to their decreased ability to manage such things in their bodies. Sedatives and tranquilizers are of great concern for seniors as these can have an effect on their balance and a slip and fall accident could occur.
2. Medication Interactions
This is an issue to be especially concerned about because those interactions can present certain health risks. Warfarin is probably the most common medication that doctors will ask a patient about prior to prescribing medications. This is a blood thinner that many seniors take and it can have various interaction possibilities with a variety of drugs.
So while your senior’s doctor should always ask about any drugs that are currently being taken in order to avoid any potential drug interaction issues, you and your senior must also be very cognizant of the possibility for unhealthy drug combinations. That means asking the doctor about the likelihood of damaging interactions with any medication being prescribed.
3. Drug Inefficacy
While it doesn’t occur very often, seniors can be experience a lack of efficacy in the drug that a doctor has prescribed. They are given a medication to combat specific symptoms that work for a brief period of time, but the symptoms mostly persist.
There are couple of reasons why this might be happening. A senior is given the medication but they fail to follow up with their doctor on that symptom which leads to very little being done as to solving the problem. The doctor might need to up the dosage or adjust to a different medication altogether. But without a visit to the doctor to have this done, the symptoms remain.
In other cases, it’s simply not the proper treatment for that particular ailment and the senior may not feel comfortable in telling the doctor they have not been given the right medication.
4. Medication Management
Sometimes it can be somewhat daunting for seniors to keep track of so many medications at one time. Older adults can have a full array of medications, supplements, and vitamins that they must take at certain days and times. This can all get very confusing and tiresome.
When this happens, a senior may lose all interest in dealing with their medications altogether or lose track of when certain medications need to be taken. The result can be rather substantial as even one missed dosage of a certain medication could have consequences on the senior’s well-being.
5. Expensive Medications
Let’s face it, medications can get pretty expensive with or without Medicare Part D and that can mean important treatments are declined because a senior doesn’t have the money to pay for them.
Costs of medication should never impact a senior’s health and while certain programs exist to help older adults pay for their medicines, not all seniors are willing to say something about their inability to cover the expenses of their medication. That can create a very dangerous situation as doses are missed and quality of life is affected.