Medication Management: Tips and Modifications for Caregivers

Medication Management

Daily medication management is just another fact of life for many seniors. Over time, age-related conditions and illnesses in the body enable seniors to take pharmaceutical medications to survive and to improve their quality of life. Oftentimes, seniors are taking a combination of both prescribed and over-the-counter medication.

Although medication such as insulin, cardiac medication, narcotics, analgesics, sleep aids, and antidepressants produce life-saving results, just a slight miscalculation in dosages can lead to devastating consequences.

Even seniors who manage their own medication schedule have some level of risk for misuse or overdose.  Hence, it’s essential to make proper medication management.

In the following write-up, we discuss in detail the guide related to medication management.

Factors Affecting Medication Adherence in Elderly People

With age or due to some critical conditions, seniors fail to monitor their medication schedule. Even supervision to check the labels, prescribed doses, coordination with the doctor, and other several tasks become difficult for seniors to manage all alone.

We also know there are several age-related factors that affect medication management. Here are the followings:

  • Poor vision: Unable to see prescription labels, pill organizers, needles, and recommended dosage instructions.
  • Forgetfulness: Forgetting to take medication, forgetting that medication was already administered, and forgetting to not mix medications with other prescribed/over-the-counter treatments or specific food/drinks.
  • Reduced mobility: The inability to retrieve medicine consistently due to limited walking.
  • Limited arm function and hand coordination or strength: Unable to reach higher shelves, open bottles, push and inject needles, punch open pill tabs, bring small pills to the mouth, etc.
  • Increased pain or medical symptoms: Unable to cope with pain or debilitating medical issues, leading to misuse or drug abuse
  • Polypharmacy: Seniors are at high risk for participating in polypharmacy, which includes regularly taking 5 or more prescribed medications to manage a single or group of medical conditions. This can lead to confusion in prescription and dosage schedules and overtreating for one or more medical conditions.

Misuse, overdose, or lapses in dosages can lead to a wide variety of side effects and health crises including dizziness, nausea, difficulty breathing, cardiac issues, and reduced cognition and awareness which leads to falls and injury.

Why Is Medication Management Important?

According to the State University of New York, 94% of seniors prescribed medication in 2017 had heightened risks for falls. Fall-related injuries in elderly include hip fractures, shoulder fractures, head trauma, and death.

On the other hand, seniors who forget to take their prescribed medications are at risk for adverse effects from medical conditions that already exist in their lives (hypertension, diabetes, heart failure, neurodegenerative disorders, respiratory failure, kidney disease, etc.).

As of 2018, approximately 25% of the diabetic population in the U.S. is adults over the age of 65. Forgetting or declining to take diabetic medication can result in devastating symptoms resulting in hospitalization or death. The same goes for other life-saving medications prescribed by a physician that isn’t being administered regularly.

That’s why family members have to follow and adopt some active measures for helping seniors when it comes to medication management.

Additionally, many in-home care agencies, like Justin Villa Care, come up with the idea of offering home health care services like shopping and meal preparation, transportation, housekeeping and laundry, including medication reminders for seniors. With the availability of such services, thousands of families are turning to such organizations for providing the best care to their loved ones.

Tips for Safe Medication Management for Seniors

Family members and caregivers can take proactive steps in assisting seniors with medication management at home, especially if he/she is living on their own most of the day.

The following tips include different ways through which family members and caregivers can improve seniors’ medication management and prevent medication misuse. 

Visual Reminders

medication management tips for seniors

Incorporate the use of calendars, either on paper or by phone app.  Use visual schedules, prescription labels, and pill organizers (pill-minders) with enlarged print to compensate for poor vision. If possible, involve seniors in creating the schedule to reinforce the reminders and to adjust print to their preference and needs.

Alarm Clocks

medication management for older adults

Help seniors set alarms, either by the clock or by phone. Customize the volume and tone so that the senior can appropriately hear the alarm. Tip: aging adults tend to hear lower tones better as opposed to high-pitch tones.

Medication Dispensers
importance of medication management in elderly

These days, it’s relatively easy to shop around for high-tech medication dispensers online. Some automatic pill dispensers can be pre-filled by caregivers, and then medication is administered in scheduled doses. This way, the senior can only take the prescribed dosage a certain number of times per day. Some dispensers are equipped with alert systems to let caregivers know if the senior missed a dosage.

Alternative Medication Presentation

Caregivers can go with seniors to their physician to discuss alternative medication administration methods. This is common for seniors who have increased trouble with swallowing and require liquid or crushed medication. Family members and caregivers can help seniors track difficulties with swallowing or adherence to medication, and then follow-up with the physician if changes are necessary.

  • Regular Physician Check-Ups

Regular Physician Check-Ups

Polypharmacy can become a concerning issue, especially if a senior is seeing multiple doctors who are unintentionally overlapping or doubling up on prescribed medication.  With the senior’s permission, consult with the primary physician regularly to coordinate and update medication to avoid polypharmacy side effects.

  • Family Scheduled Care

If a senior requires extensive supervision to take their medication, families can band together and create a caregiving schedule. Set up regular and consistent shifts so that family members can be present for medication administration. Discuss the possibility of recruiting in-home nursing services if family members can’t make it work.

  • Conduct Open and Honest Discussions About Potential Drug Abuse

Seniors are not immune to drug misuse or abuse. Debilitating medical conditions and pain can lead to poor decision-making in regard to medication administration. Family members and caregivers should have regular and loving discussions with seniors about their medication schedules. If a family member suspects drug abuse and is having difficulty communicating their concerns with a senior consultant with a medical professional immediately.

  • Emergency Plan

Family members and caregivers can’t prevent every accident from happening. This is especially common for seniors with severe cognitive deficits who are very quick with their hands or who are unable to adhere to medication schedules on their own. Make sure the family has an emergency and hospital plan in the event a medication-related accident occurs. Ensure that the senior knows who in the family to contact if there is an accidental overdose.

In order to work according to such tips, you can also recruit our professional caregivers in the event of a medication-related emergency. We, at Justin Villa Care, supervise to ensure correct medication is taken at prescribed doses and times.

Medication Reminders & Management With Justin Villa Care!

Family members and caregivers can prevent serious medication-related accidents by staying educated and informed of the latest adaptive techniques, equipment, and tips. Above, we have mentioned some effective tips that proactively help in communicating with the seniors and maintaining healthy relationships.

Plus, we’re well aware of the fact that seniors suffering from Parkinson’s, dementia, or other critical conditions usually forget to take their medications on time.

But now, you don’t have to worry about such circumstances because Justin Villa Care is here to assist you. Our caregivers implement appropriate medication reminders with the correct dosage. Also, we help your loved ones to get their medication on time.

Still, have questions? Feel free to ask us!

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Brenda

Brenda

Brenda Villanueva, R.N. is the owner and supervisor of Justin Villa Care, LLC; a licensed in-home care agency that serves seniors in Los Angeles and Orange county. Since 2006, she has helped seniors stay at home through caregiver services, such as, bathing, dressing, meal preparation, transferring, incontinence care, and Alzheimer’s care.

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Justin Villa Care Implements Safety Measures to Protect Clients From COVID-19

Justin Villa Care is dedicated to implementing proactive measures during this difficult time to support our caregivers, clients and families. Here are some of the measures we are implementing to help your loved ones to stay home and stay safe.

Caregiver and Staff Education

Our caregivers and staff have received communication and training in:

  • Symptoms
  • Safety protocols
  • Travel reporting requirements
  • Proper handwashing techniques
  • Respiratory etiquette
  • Warning signs of illness
  • Infection control protocols, including effective cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces and hands Following CDC and local health authority guidance

Caregiver and Staff Monitoring

We will not place any caregiver with a client for a minimum of 14 days or until cleared by a medical provider if the caregiver has:

  • Been exposed to a facility where COVID- 19 is being treated
  • Traveled to a location on the CDC advisory list in the past two months
  • Started showing symptoms of the illness
  • We will not place any caregiver who has symptoms of illness on assignment or accept new clients who demonstrate symptoms that are highly consistent with the COVID-19 diagnosis or who have traveled to Level 1-3 areas in the most recent 14 days.

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