Modern medicine has benefited society as a whole, paving the way for improved health, longer life spans, and a better quality of life. As such, medications have become essential parts of people’s lives, especially with more stressors and health hazards present in the daily life of the modern person. They can treat and prevent life-threatening illnesses, provide comfort in pain and suffering, and even allow those with terminal illnesses to spend their remaining days as comfortably as possible.
Caregivers must consider special circumstances when providing older adults with their medications. When used incorrectly, even over-the-counter medicines can have fatal consequences for the aged! Whether your elderly patient is taking medication for hypertension or diabetes, here are some important pointers when it comes to medications and aging:
Development of Medication-Related Problems
Many physical changes come with age, and with these changes come the likelihood of experiencing medication-related problems (MRPs). Fortunately, these have been shown to be preventable with key involvement from caregivers, who can mitigate the negative consequences of taking medications.
Managing medications may seem like a simple, everyday task—but they actually require a certain level of skill and attention to ensure accurate consumption and dosage control. For instance, patients with Alzheimer’s disease typically experience difficulty with remembering when and how to take their medicine, which can become problematic with medicines that can cause overdosing.
Patients and their caregivers must work with doctors and pharmacists to maintain the safe administration of the correct medications, thereby preventing MRPs. By doing so, they contribute to the elderly patient’s improved daily functioning.
Typical questions that caregivers should ask include the following:
- Is this medication necessary?
- Does this medication interact with others prescribed by the doctor?
- Is this medication the best choice for the medical condition that requires treatment?
- Is the medication being prescribed at the right dosage?
- Can the patient take the medication based on their specific circumstances?
Challenges for Caregivers
Getting older people to take their medication isn’t a simple task. Caregivers often have to juggle multiple medications and ensure that prescriptions are filled, especially on weekends and holidays when pharmacies are typically closed. Sometimes these are prescribed by multiple doctors, making it difficult to keep track of, especially when it comes to the prescriptions!
The role of caregivers is crucial for planning ahead for their patient’s medications. A record-keeping system is necessary for caregivers to ensure these are administered properly. This can be a simple binder, notebook, or spreadsheet, depending on the simplest and the most accessible option. In addition to the prescribed medication, compiling patient records, diagnoses, doctor’s appointments, and other pertinent documents is necessary to ensure the best treatment possible.
One of the most important roles that caregivers provide their patients with is the prevention of MRPs. Avoiding these problems is entirely possible as long as doctors, consumers, and caregivers understand what they are to make them easily identifiable. Taking the necessary steps will reduce the incidence of such costly problems to protect patients’ lives.
Common symptoms of MRPs may include intense drowsiness, confusion, delirium, insomnia, symptoms resembling Parkinson’s, appetite loss, muscle weakness, and falls or fractures. Caregivers will consider these as a sign that action must be taken to mitigate the occurring MRP.
MRPs typically indicate the need for a new medication to address a certain medical condition. One of the most common examples for the elderly includes chronic pain and depression, which are often left untreated. These conditions require chronic care management and therapy for effective treatment, and the longer they are left without the right interventions, the faster the decline of the patient’s functions and overall wellbeing.
Since seniors don’t often disclose their symptoms to healthcare professionals, there is a gap in the completeness of information needed for medication prescription. Caregivers can participate by probing the seniors for any symptoms they feel to complete an accurate picture of health and needs.
For preventing MRPs, a good balance of involvement, intervention, and communication is required between caregivers, doctors, pharmacists, and the patient. Without knowing the older individual’s specific needs, there is a greater risk for the occurrence of MRPs. Caregivers act as the bridge between the patient and their needs, ensuring that each medication given is appropriately prescribed and administered. By doing so, they enable their patients to live more comfortably and confidently through the experience of elderly life.
At Medistics Health, we help simplify the patient’s experience, whether they have chronic, behavioral, or other health conditions that may require remote patient monitoring. To help make your patients’ life more comfortable, get in touch with us today!