According to the Food and Drug Administration, just over 1.3 million people are injured by medication errors every year, and many of those individuals are over the age of 65, which is why every caregiver must come up with a comprehensive medication management plan that minimizes risks. Here are five tips you can use to help your aging loved one prevent medication mishaps.
1. Create a Medication Spreadsheet
If your loved one takes more than one or two pills per day, you need to create a medication spreadsheet. In addition to prescription medications, the spreadsheet should include any vitamins or supplements your loved one is taking. Some of the information you might want to add to the spreadsheet includes a physical description of each pill, alternative names for various medications, dosages, and how long the medications must be taken. You can then give copies of the spreadsheet to your loved one and anyone who will be looking after him or her.
An experienced professional caregiver can be a great resource when you’re creating systems to manage your loved one’s medications. One of the most challenging tasks of helping an elderly relative age in place safely and comfortably is researching agencies that provide in-home care. Lincoln families can turn to Home Care Assistance for reliable, high-quality in-home care for aging adults. We offer 24-hour live-in care for seniors who require extensive assistance, and we also offer respite care for family caregivers who need a break from their caregiving duties.
2. Don’t Move from Pharmacy to Pharmacy
It might be tempting to go to different pharmacies to get the best prices, but this increases the risk of an error taking place. Once a single prescription is filled at a pharmacy, a database is created for the recipient. Before any new prescriptions are filled, the pharmacist looks over the database to make sure there won’t be any negative interactions among all the drugs.
3. Track Side Effects Carefully
While some medications immediately impact an individual’s health, others take quite a bit of time to kick in. Over the course of a few months, you might notice your loved one is experiencing mood swings or no longer eating enough. These types of issues must be written down and shared with a doctor as soon as possible. Even relatively mild prescriptions can result in serious side effects when taken incorrectly or mixed with other medications, and you don’t want to ignore any of those problems.
If your loved one lives alone, you may not be able to monitor his or her reactions to medications closely, but a trained professional caregiver can do this and much more. Some seniors only require help with a few daily tasks so they can maintain their independence. However, those living with serious illnesses may need more extensive assistance. Luckily, there is professional live-in care Lincoln, CA, seniors can rely on. Home can be a safer and more comfortable place for your loved one to live with the help of an expertly trained and dedicated live-in caregiver.
4. Separate PRN Medications from Regulated Medications
PRN medicines are taken whenever they’re needed, and they often help with issues such as minor aches, heartburn, constipation, and nausea. While these pills might be dangerous in large quantities, most people can take a few of them every day without any problems. These medications should be separated from any pills that must be taken at specific times. You don’t want your loved one to reach into the medicine cabinet for heartburn medication and grab a prescription painkiller by mistake.
5. Use a Weekly Pill Organizer
Filling up a pill organizer every morning can be time-consuming, which is why you might want to consider using a weekly pill organizer. At the start of each week, you can fill up the organizer and check how many pills are left in each bottle. If you’re running low on any pills, you can schedule an appointment with the pharmacist or doctor to have the prescription refilled.
Medication errors can be very serious for seniors, so follow these tips, and consider hiring a professional caregiver to prevent medication mix-ups. Many seniors prefer aging in place over moving to an assisted living facility. If your senior loved one needs assistance to remain safe and comfortable while living at home, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a leading Lincoln home care agency. Our dedicated in-home caregivers can assist with meal prep, bathing and grooming, exercise, medication reminders, and many other important tasks. If you need compassionate, professional home care for your loved one, call one of our friendly Care Managers today at 916.226.3737.