82 percent of American adults take at least one medication, and 29 percent take five or more, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Adverse drug events – defined as harms resulting from the use of medication – are likely to increase due to:
- The development of new medicines
- The discovery of new uses for older medications
- The aging American population
- The increased use of medicines for disease treatment and prevention
- The expansion of insurance coverage for prescription medications
It’s no surprise that people ages 65 and older are prescribed medications more frequently than any other age group in the United States. If you’ve noticed that your senior parent’s medicine cabinet is packed with an assortment of medication bottles, it may be time to discuss safe medication management with your aging parent. NIH Senior Health provides eight helpful strategies to ensure that your senior parent manages and takes their medications safely and properly:
1. Keep a checklist of all the prescription and over-the-counter medications your senior parent is prescribed. For each medication, mark the amount and time of day that it should be taken, along with any notes (such as if the medication should be taken with food). Store two copies of the list – a copy on the refrigerator (or wherever the medications are stored) and a copy in your parent’s wallet or purse.
2. Review your senior parent’s medicine record at every visit to the doctor. Their doctor may have new information about your aging parent’s medication that might be important. Whenever possible, have their health care provider write down advice and instructions for taking each medication.
3. Ask your senior parent’s pharmacist to provide their medication in large, easy-to open containers with large-print labels. Keep medicines in their original containers, and never put more than one kind of medicine in the same container. Consider using multi-day dispensers that organize your parent’s medications by the day and time that they should be taken.
4. To determine how a medication should be stored, ask your parent’s doctor or pharmacist and/or read the label. Some medications must be stored in the refrigerator. Your bathroom medicine cabinet is not a good place to store most medications due to the moist, warm conditions that can cause drugs to break down more quickly.
5. Share with your senior parent that they should not stop taking a prescription drug unless their doctor says it's okay – even if they are feeling better.
6. Ensure that your senior parent gets prescriptions refilled early enough so they don't run out of medication. Running out could cause problems with their medication schedule. Check expiration dates frequently and discard any medicines that are out-of-date.
7. Before your senior parent travels, ask their doctor or pharmacist about how to adjust their medication schedule to account for changes in time zones, routine and diet. Ensure that your aging parent brings the phone numbers of their doctors/pharmacists on the trip. When flying, make sure that they carry their medications with them – medications should not be packed in checked luggage. When traveling, always keep medicines out of heat and direct sunlight.
8. Set timers and reminders for your senior parent to take their medicines. Program clocks for when they are at home, and cell phones and watches when they are traveling.
When it comes to the health, safety and security of your loved one, you cannot be too careful. If you fear that your senior parent is mismanaging their medications, call Synergy HomeCare of Corona, Riverside or Anaheim Hills. Our trained, compassionate, expert caregivers can provide your senior parent ongoing support, whether they are experiencing the effects of aging, disability, illness or injury.
About SYNERGY HomeCare of Corona/ Riverside
Synergy HomeCare of Corona/ Riverside is the name you can trust in Corona, Norco, Riverside, Chino, Chino Hills, Diamond Bar for personal home care. Synergy HomeCare of Corona/ Riverside is part of a national franchise of non-medical home care offices dedicated to providing exceptional and affordable service to anyone of any age. Synergy HomeCare caregivers are available 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, to those in need - including seniors, expectant moms, those suffering from sports injuries and debilitating illnesses, and more. Synergy HomeCare of Corona & Riverside can be found online at /agencies/ca/corona/ca18/. The location also hosts active social media pages on Facebook and Twitter. Ken and Anna can be reached at 951-280-9808 and [email protected] .