April 30, 2013

Health Minute With CASI – Medication Management for Seniors

By: Michelle Migliore, RN

Living independently is important to all of us, but especially to our seniors. As we age, we experience unique challenges, such as losing a spouse and friends, changes in physical and mental abilities, and other general lifestyle changes that often occur during these years. Living in a comfortable and familiar environment becomes paramount to our happiness and feelings of well-being.

One area that deserves special attention with seniors is managing the medications they take. Chances are the
number of medications they are required to take increases with age, as seniors are often prone to medical conditions that are regulated by medicine. Taking the medications is important. However, it is equally important for seniors and their family caregivers to understand what medicine the senior takes, to become knowledgeable about side effects, and also to determine whether there appear to be adverse effects from taking different types of medications at the same time. Mismanagement of medications can be detrimental and sometimes even life threatening.

Medication mismanagement can be minimal or extreme. Forgetting to take medication can cause obvious problems, but it may not be of great concern if it does not happen often. Seniors who have trouble successfully managing medications are not alone. In fact, research indicates that approximately 40 percent of people entering nursing homes do so because they are unable to self-medicate in their homes. In addition, 30 percent of all hospital admissions for people over age 65 are directly attributable to missed doses or overdoses of medication.

It is also essential to make sure their doctors know of all medications seniors take (it is common to have multiple physicians involved in a senior’s care), so they can coordinate care and prescribe additional medicine, when needed, which will not cause adverse effects when combined with other meds. The reward in helping seniors properly manage their medication is helping them achieve their ultimate goal of living healthy, independent lives in their own homes for as long as possible