Signs Your Senior Loved One May Be Overmedicated

March 18, 2016

Overmedication is a significant problem among the senior population. Taking too many medicines can lead to unpleasant side effects like insomnia, dizziness, and anxiety, as well as life-altering falls.

 

You can be an advocate for your senior loved one by looking for these signs that they are overmedicated:

Medicines to Treat Side Effects

It is common for seniors to take multiple medications per day to address various health conditions. However, as anyone who has ever received a prescription knows, many drugs cause side effects.

 

 

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A senior may go to the doctor complaining of one issue and come home with three medications: one to treat the central problem and two to address potential side effects of the first drug. This can get out of hand quickly and multiply the number of prescriptions and over-the-counter medicines a senior takes daily. To ensure this isn’t happening to your older loved one, talk about their medications. Learn which causes side effects and how the senior addresses those issues. There is a good chance that the doctor can instead provide a different medicine that addresses the same problems but doesn’t cause side effects or require additional medication.

Determine the Need for Medication

To receive a prescription, a senior must first exhibit a medical need for a particular drug. Some doctors will prescribe without fully exploring other options first. For example, your loved one may be feeling sad and want to talk about depression medication. Physicians can take two routes, the first of which is to prescribe antidepressants.

“Medicine is not always the only answer.”

The second involves investigating the cause of the sadness. Instead of just offering up a medication that may help but could interact with other medicines a senior is taking, a physician may suggest the individual try talk therapy. Attending grief counseling or even becoming more active in the community may help alleviate feelings of depression without adding another pill to a senior’s daily medications. Caregivers should never hesitate to ask questions about those they’re caring for when they have the person’s best interest in mind.

Take Notes

It’s hard enough for many young people to keep track of what medicines and supplements they take – imagine trying to stay organized with dementia. You can help your senior loved one write everything about their health problems and current medications. This will reduce confusion if the senior doesn’t go to the same hospital and can’t access their health records to look up such important information. They will be prepared for upcoming doctor’s appointments and can ask questions. Also, they should be encouraged to jot down any side effects and discuss them with a physician. The doctor may then alter the senior’s treatment plan to reduce these unfortunate issues and better address why the senior is seeking medical assistance.

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