Helping Seniors Avoid Medication Mistakes

Helping Seniors Avoid Medication Mistakes

Medications are a crucial part of life for most seniors, helping them stay healthy and manage chronic conditions. But for all the good they do, medications also represent a risk for older adults. Making mistakes when taking medications can lead to serious — even fatal — consequences. So, it’s important that seniors and family caregivers alike do all that they can to avoid medication mistakes. Helping Seniors Avoid Medication Mistakes
As America’s choice in non-medical home care, the team at Visiting Angels knows how important it is for seniors and their families to avoid medication mistakes. To help, we’ve listed some of the most common medication mistakes made by seniors, plus strategies that seniors and family caregivers can use to prevent these mistakes from occurring.

Common Medication Mistakes by Seniors

Medication mistakes by the elderly may be more common than you think. According to at least one study, conducted by Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the University of Massachusetts Medical School, there is one serious, life-threatening, or fatal prescription drug event each year for every 50 seniors taking medications. Of those serious drug events, over 40% are preventable.
Here are some of the most common ways those mistakes can occur:

  • One of the most common — and most serious — medication mistakes among seniors is overdosing. Overdoses are the number one cause of medication-related fatalities. They can be caused by seniors taking too much medication all at once, or build up over time because seniors take their medications too often.
  • Drug Interaction. Certain medications are dangerous when taken together, when combined with alcohol, or when combined with certain foods such as grapefruit. Seniors may forget about interactions they need to avoid. In other cases, a lack of communication between doctors/pharmacists can mean seniors aren’t aware of dangers.
  • Forgotten Doses. Forgetful seniors may fail to take their medications regularly. If medications are important — such as medications that help regulate healthy blood flow — failure to take them on schedule can be dangerous.
  • Medication Mix-Ups. Some medications look similar or carry similar names to one another, making it possible for seniors to mix up one of their medications for another. This can lead to overdose, missed dosages, or dangerous drug interactions.
  • Misread Labels. Poor eyesight can make it tough for many seniors to properly read their medication labels. As with medication mix-ups, this can easily lead to an overdose or dangerous drug interaction.

Tips for Preventing Medication Mistakes

As a caregiver for a parent or grandparent, you can play a big role in helping your loved one avoid medication errors. Here are some of the ways you can help your loved one stay safe when it comes to taking their medications:

  • Use a Pill Organizer. A pill organizer is one of the best ways to prevent medication mistakes by seniors. Family caregivers can help seniors fill their pill organizers once a week or once a month.
  • Double-Check Labels. Avoid mistakes caused by poor eyesight or reading errors by double-checking your loved one’s medication labels for proper usage.
  • Offer Helpful Reminders. Family caregivers can help seniors take their medications at the right times by offering reminders. Even if you can’t be there in person, you can give your loved one a call for a quick daily chat and medication prompt.
  • Speak with Medical Professionals. If you are able to, speak with your loved one’s doctor and/or pharmacist about any medications your loved one is taking. If you have concerns, make sure to ask detailed questions to get the answers you need.

While our professional caregivers provide only non-medical care assistance and cannot dispense medication to seniors, they can help in a variety of other ways to help keep seniors safe and secure. If you’re considering hiring an in-home caregiver for your loved one, we encourage you to contact your local Visiting Angels agency today.

Helping Seniors Avoid Medication Mistakes 

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About the Author

Richard Bitner

Visiting Angels is a national, private duty network of senior care agencies. We are proud to be the nation’s leading provider of non-medical at home care services. With our elder care services, seniors can remain independent and live safely at home. Our senior care services include Social Care, Dementia Care, Alzheimer’s Care, End of Life Care, Companion Care, Private Duty Care, care to prevent hospital readmission, and so much more.

Compassionate, dignified at home senior care is close to home when you connect with your local Visiting Angels office by calling 800-365-4189.

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