How can you tell if someone is at risk? The first thing to know is what to look for. In this section, we will be talking about some red flags or barriers to medication safety. The more barriers a person faces, the greater the need for vigilance. First, there is the use of many medications. Taking five or more drugs a day is called polypharmacy.
As we talked about before, the more meds taken, the more the chance of problems such as side effects, and drug interactions. Sometimes polypharmacy is the best option to treat many chronic conditions at once, but we want to be sure that all meds are necessary. A complex medication schedule is one where meds are taken at various times of the day, some with meals, some on an empty stomach, some apart from other pills, the more complicated it gets. gets, the easier it is to make a mistake or just plain forget some detail. A pharmacy can help by putting pills in a blister pack arranged by date and time. Recent studies have also shown that text messages with medication reminders can increase correct medication use by as much as 50%.
There are some, like on time are acts that offer a range of remind options from automated phone calls with your own custom message to apps for cell phones or tablets. I will be including their address in resources. filling prescriptions from more than one doctor or pharmacy either online or in the community increases the chance of problems such as communication glitches or doubling up on prescriptions. Make sure all doctors and pharmacists involved have a complete list of all meds. It is safest to use only one pharmacy to fill prescriptions. Any form of dementia or memory issue will add to the challenge Taking meds correctly.
Blister packs can help in some cases, or medication remind systems may also be helpful. Sometimes elders have difficulty opening the bottles because of arthritic or we can. And once they get them open, they may want to leave them open, taking the chance that some will fall out and get mixed up with other meds. This again, is where a blister pack comes in handy. difficulty swallowing pills can lead to choking or reluctance to take them. This needs to be discussed with the doctor or pharmacist.
Crashing pills and swallowing them in a soft food, like yogurt or applesauce can help to consult a pharmacist before crushing a pill there's sometimes is a reason not to. Non compliance is a fancy way of saying not following instructions. If an elder has been non compliant most of their life they may not see the need to change now If an elder does not understand why they are taking a med, they may not see the importance. If they don't know how or when to take it, they will make mistakes. Limited finances, elders are often on a fixed income and may simply not be able to afford all their meds or extras like blister packs. If this is a barrier, it is important that the doctor and pharmacists know there may be less expensive alternatives or assistance plans that are worth looking into illiteracy.
They may not be able to read the labels on the med containers or the information sheets. a blister pack can help there too. If there is trouble with reading, make sure the doctor or pharmacist know so they can help. It can be embarrassing to talk about this but is better than compromising health. For a variety of reasons. Older women are statistically more at risk.
They live longer and thus tend to end up with more chronic conditions because of the difference in their family. Muscle ratio. fat soluble medications that were tested only on men may not work the same for women. They also tend to express emotions more freely than men, and thus are more likely to be given risky prescriptions for depression and anxiety. lack of support, there may be nobody to help an elder sort out medication issues. Also, a lack of supportive relationships can lead to increase prescriptions for say depression.
Often both an antidepressant and a sedative for sleep are prescribed. We will be talking about alternatives to these medications later. A stressed caregiver is more likely to make mistakes. If you are in this position. Make sure you find support to help you achieve balances. Habits of illegal drug use may like non compliance continue into old age street drugs may interact with prescription drugs and untested Same ways.
As expired meds may lose some of their potency and elder may not be getting the complete dose. borrowed medications may mean they are not consulting the doctor or pharmacist about all that they're taking. Mixing prescription with over the counter meds such as aspirin laxative, sleeping pills antacid Tylenol, ibuprofen is very common, we all do it, but it does increase the number of drug taken and the chance of reactions. That's why it's really important to make sure the doctor and pharmacist know what over the counter meds are being taken. This goes for vitamins and supplements as well. psychotropic meds were developed for conditions like schizophrenia, but are prescribed for depression and anxiety as well.
They can cause dizziness which increases the risk of falls and also confusion which increases the risk of medication errors. As we saw in Phil story, a kidney condition can affect how long the meds stay in the body. Make sure all doctors and pharmacists know about any kidney issues and arrange for regular testing to check for changes. Elders with symptoms of depression received more risky medication than non depressive persons, as most depression medications are considered risky. Is the elder able to read the pill bottle? Did they hear what the doctor or pharmacist told them about the med.
Many elders will smile and nod rather than admit they didn't hear or put the health professional to the trouble of repeating or writing things down. Please be assertive about this. Also, you can ask the pharmacist to use large print labels if necessary. In the next section, we will talk about how to identify a drug related reaction