The average senior takes between 8 and 15 medications, each with different rules and regulations. The responsibility of taking several medications may be difficult to bear, leading to frequent and otherwise avoidable errors. Taking the incorrect medication often results in additional health and safety issues.
Seniors face a wide array of medication management pitfalls. Many seniors continue to take outdated medications or incorrect doses; some medications may be prescribed by different doctors and may actually contradict each other. It is important to develop a medication management program specific to the needs of the patient to help reduce these and other issues, resulting in a better outcome.
The first step in helping someone manage their medications is to learn about the client’s health history either from them or a trusted person. When it comes to medication, one can never be too safe. It is completely acceptable to contact the patient’s physician to ensure all medications are correct and up-to-date. Make sure to consider over-the-counter medications and vitamins as well. Seniors don’t always share the correct or consistent information with each doctor. To facilitate a smooth process, utilize doctors’ orders for medication management, this will provide awareness of all medications to all doctors providing treatment.
“With our medication management program, we have seen huge benefits to our clients,” says Suzanne Johnson, Owner/Administrator for Bayshore Home Care in Florida, “less risk of falls, better mental status and better control over issues such as diabetes and blood pressure.”
When correct medication management processes are in place, refills can be administered in a timely manner and in compliance with insurance. If a change of medication is necessary, these processes will provide a seamless transition while providing awareness to the physician and/or family.
Because most seniors are on multiple medications,knowing when to take pills can become complicated. To avoid confusion, Bayshore nurses set up a weekly medication box. Bayshore RN Supervisor, Sharon Lena, RN says, “For many of my patients, the greatest service we provide is coming each week to set up their medication box. I ensure the medications are set up so that they can be taken at the correct time of the day, which is essential to having them work properly.”
Medication management programs work to vastly reduce hospitalizations and increase the safety, health and independence of seniors, resulting in a lower risk of falls and a more clear mental state.