Overmedication is a major 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 he or she is 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. A senior may go to the doctor complaining of one issue and come home with three medications: one to treat the main 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 that a senior takes on a daily basis. To make sure this isn't happening to your older loved one, talk about his or her medications. Learn which cause 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 issues but doesn't cause side effects or require additional medication.
Inadequate reasoning for medication
In order for a senior to receive a prescription, he or she must first exhibit a medical need for a particular drug. Some doctors will write a prescription 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 simply 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 the senior they are caring for when they have the person's best interest in mind.
Tip: Write everything down
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 down about his or her health problems and current medications. This will cut down on confusion if the senior doesn't go to the same hospital and can't access his or her health records to look up such important information. He or she will be prepared for upcoming doctor's appointments and can ask questions. Also, encourage the senior to jot down any side effects to discuss them with a physician. The doctor may then alter the senior's treatment plan to reduce these unfortunate issues and better address the main reason the senior is seeking medical assistance.