Is Someone You Love Overmedicated?

Senior woman reading a prescription bottle

Learn how to help a senior you love avoid being overmedicated.

At one point, it was normal to hear, “take two aspirin and call me in the morning.” But now, it’s more like, “take two of these…and two of these…and perhaps one of those, too!” Nearly forty percent of older adults are taking at least five different prescription medications each day – not to mention OTC meds, vitamins, and supplements. It’s easy to see how a senior could be overmedicated and experience adverse medication reactions to their medication.

Take these actions to prevent medication complications for a senior you love:

  • Set up a system. When you confirm that all of the older adult’s medications are necessary and you have the information you need to ensure they are taken correctly, create a system for following physicians’ orders. Depending on the older adult’s cognitive functioning, this can be as simple as a pill box that is filled weekly. You could also rely on in-home care in Fort Lauderdale or the nearby areas from a home care provider, like Responsive Home Care, for medication reminders.
  • Make a list, and check it twice. Create a list of every one of the medications – both over-the-counter and prescription – that the older adult is currently taking. Share the list with all of the senior’s healthcare providers, and supply updated lists whenever there’s a change in medications. Then at least twice a year, review the list with their primary care physician to confirm that all of the meds are essential and that current doses are ideal.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Make sure you understand fully what each medication is for, and make sure there are not any contraindications with other medications the person is taking. The doctor or pharmacist can run the senior’s meds through a drug interaction database to verify. If you’re unsure about anything else related to the medications prescribed, speak up. You’ll want to make certain you have an understanding of:
    • Exactly when as well as how the meds must be taken (in other words, on a full stomach, with a full glass of water, if they can be crushed or broken in half, etc.)
    • Whether a generic version is available
    • What you should do if a dose is missed
    • What the potential side effects may be
    • And any other questions you might have

It’s also very important to consult a doctor before starting or changing any medications, including vitamins or over-the-counter meds. Some prescription medications belong to the same drug category as OTC meds, which could result in an excessive amount of a medication being administered. In other cases, vitamins or OTC medications interact negatively with prescriptions.

We’re always here to help older adults continue to be healthy and safe. If you need a caregiver in Fort Lauderdale, Florida or in the surrounding areas, contact us to learn more about our in-home care services and how they can benefit a loved one in your life.