As people age they tend to have more than one chronic condition that requires not only more than one prescription drug but also more than one doctor. In fact, in 2011, 40 percent of Americans over 65 were taking between five and nine medications regularly.
It is of the utmost importance that all the physicians are kept informed of everything a senior is taking, including prescriptions, herbal supplements, vitamins, and over the counter medications, to avoid any potentially harmful and sometimes fatal interactions.
There are a number of aspects to medication management, all of which are focused on making sure medications are used appropriately. Keeping track of all the medications currently in use by seniors is an important part of medication management.
Monitoring medication administration is also key. Medications usually need to be taken in specific doses at set intervals. Missing doses or timing doses incorrectly can cause complications.
What should seniors do to make sure they are managing their different medications?
First off, make a list of all the medications, vitamins, supplements, herbs, and over the counter treatments on a piece of paper or recipe card and make a copy to keep in your files and to take to your next appointment and all other following appointments. It is important to show this list to each of the doctors you see at every visit and to make appropriate changes each time any medication changes are made. Some doctors will be more than happy to send an email or fax to your primary physician after each visit if there is any change in your condition or medications – be sure to ask.
Seniors should also always use the same pharmacy. This is a double-safe method of making sure none of your medications from any of your doctors will counteract or interact negatively with another. Many pharmacies have delivery services and will fill individual med boxes or unit doses for free or a small fee.
Make sure to have the doctor or pharmacy explain fully what the medication is supposed to do, what to expect, the dosage, symptoms of over dosage, side effects and when to call their physician if they notice any side effects.
How can home health companies like Amedisys help seniors with medication management?
At Amedisys, we help support patients in tracking and taking their prescribed medications.
Specifically, we provide education, tools and monitoring to help patients take medications as prescribed; assist in communication and collaboration with the patient, physician and other health care providers; establish easy-to-follow practices for patients to better manage their own medications; monitor patients for drug interactions and negative side effect and help patients keep an up-to-date record of their medications, over-the counter drugs and supplements to share with all health providers.
For helpful tips on how you can better manage your medications, download the medication management tip sheet.