This article was published in the June 2020 Helping Seniors of Brevard Newsletter, printed in Senior Scene Magazine.
Medications & Med Changes
This article is written as a senior advocate, not as a healthcare professional. As the owner of Seniors Helping Seniors I meet with many seniors and have written down many medication lists. While some have no medications, others have given me a typed two-page list. Poly-pharmacy continues to be a problem for seniors, as well as confusion over medication changes, especially after a discharge from the hospital or rehabilitation facility.
Two incidents over the last month highlight the need for better medication management for seniors. First, a client went to the hospital, then to a rehabilitation facility. Upon returning home she mentioned having seven new prescriptions to fill. Seven? New? Her hospitalization was due to a known condition, there was no new diagnosis. We encouraged her to review her entire medication list with her primary doctor to identify exactly what she should be taking. Were any medications discontinued? She was confused but was going to fill the scripts and take them without question.
Last month my father went to the ER and came home with a new medication, allegedly the lowest dose. When the prescription was filled however, my mother noticed it was twice the “lowest dose.” She called me to discuss and I asked her to please call the doctor right away. It was the weekend, but an on-call doctor called back and explained that the dose given was the lowest dose for an adult, the smaller amount listed was for children. Crisis averted; peace of mind restored.
Our goal at Seniors Helping Seniors is to keep people healthy and independent. Proper medication management is crucial in making sure that happens! We advocate on our client’s behalf with family and medical staff and encourage:
1. Fill prescriptions at the same pharmacy and ask the pharmacist to review the list at least once a year, more so when there are changes.
2. Keep a medication list that goes to every doctor you see. As you get older, according to my father, you collect doctors. Make sure they are all on the same page.
3. Ask questions, do not be afraid to ask again if you do not understand what the medication is for or how to take it properly.
4. Consider pre-packaging medications, often a free service by the pharmacy, which puts the correct doses in the correct order, eliminating potential errors.
5. Forgetful? There are med boxes that will sound a reminder alarm and even run a notification across the TV screen. Automated boxes that allow only one dose at a time, great for folks who forget and take their dose twice.
If you would like to know more about how we keep our seniors healthy and independent, please give our office a call.