Medication Management for Seniors

Americans age 65 and older make up 13% of the population but consume about one third of all prescription drugs. Older individuals also take more potentially addictive medications than any other age group. The American Society on Aging reports that among the over-60 population as many as 17% misuse alcohol or medication. To read our article on substance abuse in seniors click here.

Here are seven ways to tell if your loved one may need medication management service.

1. He/she takes more than three medications daily.

The more medications, the greater the risk for mistakes.

2. He/she has trouble remembering when each medication is to be taken.

3. He/she frequently misses doses of medications.

Non-compliance with medications can cause seniors to experience negative side effects or even cause them to discontinue taking medications because of feelings that the medications are not having the desired effects. You will also want to identify if your loved one has any pattern when it comes to missing medications. This may signal the need for a change in their daily routine.

4. He/she forgets to re-order medications

5. He/she does not have a system for taking their medications.

Your senior loved one will have the best chance of taking medications compliantly if they have a system in place. A medication system may include, a pill box, all medications kept in the same place, color coding, and general organization when it comes to their medications. A lack of any of these indicators may signify the need for medication management.

6. He/she has had a recent or change in diagnosis.

A new health challenge can mean a change in medications. A change in medications in addition to the changes that come along with a health crisis can be too much for seniors to handle. Especially for seniors who already have difficulty remaining compliant with their medications, a new diagnosis can make things go from bad to worse.

7. He/she is being prescribed medications by more than two physicians.

It is very possible that all of these physicians are prescribing medications to your loved one without knowledge of what other medications your loved one is taking. This can become dangerous because medications react differently when combined and can have negative effects on your loved one.


Medication management service is usually provided by a private duty home health care agency. It usually entails a nurse visiting regularly (weekly) to re-fill a medication box. At this time the nurse will also re-order any medications needed for the client. During this visit the nurse also conducts a general wellness visit. They also as well as closely monitor any changes in the clients’ condition. Most medication management services include a check of client vital signs. Changes in these, as well as things like swelling and dehydration can be signs that medications need to be changed. The nurse is then able to communicate these things with the clients Physician team.

Published Date: December 23, 2014

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