The power of modern medicine is incredible. According to the National Institute of Aging, the average life expectancy is increasing around the world. As a result of these developments, many seniors take multiple medications, both prescription and over-the-counter. While this means longer, healthier lives, it also poses another struggle: managing those medications.
Unfortunately, there's a lot that can go wrong when taking several drugs. They often need to be taken on a specific, consistent schedule to work effectively, they may pose health threats when consumed together and the side effects may affect seniors' quality of life. Therefore, it's important for caregivers to help seniors manage these medications.
Remembering to take medications
Many older adults experience forgetfulness. While some elements of this cognitive decline are harmless – such as forgetting the title of a recent book they read or misplacing their keys – some results of memory loss can be detrimental to their health, which is especially true for seniors who need Alzheimer's care. Imagine this scenario: Your senior loved one took a certain medication when he or she woke up in the morning. By the afternoon, your loved one may have forgotten whether the medication was taken, so he or she takes it again. Because of a bout of forgetfulness, the senior now took a higher dose than intended.
No matter what level of memory loss your senior loved ones are facing, it's important to make sure it doesn't affect their medication schedule. Help seniors remember to take their medications by providing them with a pill box. Their pharmacist can give you a small container that is labeled for each day of the week. Make sure it gets refilled with the appropriate doses every Saturday night, and seniors will have a quick reference as to whether they took their medications each day.
Communicating with doctors
Upon being prescribed a new medication, seniors will likely get an explanation of how much and when to take the drugs from their physicians and their pharmacists. According to the Center for Hearing and Communication, two out of every three adults age 75 and older experience some level of hearing loss. With so many seniors struggling to hear, it's likely many do not always clearly hear medical professionals' directions.
Caregivers can help seniors manage multiple medications by being present at doctors' visits and trips to the pharmacy. Four ears are better than two, especially when those two may not be working to their full potential. Caregivers should also bring a pen and paper to record what the professionals say instead of just relying on memory. Additionally, Everyday Health recommends seniors use only one pharmacy. Consolidating prescription medication sources reduces the chances for lapses in communication.
Lowering the cost
Happiness and a higher quality of life are invaluable, but you may want to pinch some pennies where you can. Help seniors lower the cost of multiple medications by keeping open communication with their medical providers. During doctors' appointments, speak with the physician about switching to a less expensive generic form of medication. Additionally, though you want to stick with one pharmacy, you can still shop around for price comparisons. Your pharmacy may offer price matches or competitive discounts.
It can be difficult for anyone to balance multiple medications, so caregivers should do their part to help seniors manage their prescriptions.