Overcome Senior Medication Problems With These Tips!

A man gazes down at an assortment of senior medication bottles and pills, looking confused and concerned

Do you need help with your medications?

Did you know the National Institutes of Health (NIH) defines polypharmacy as the use of five or more medications? This is because the higher number of medications you take (including over-the-counter meds), the higher the risk of side effects and adverse outcomes like falls.

As people age, they often acquire chronic conditions… and new specialists to manage them. For example, when you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, you are referred to a pulmonologist to prescribe a c-pap for you. Ten years later, you may also have acquired a cardiologist to provide care after your heart attack, an endocrinologist to manage your diabetes, a nephrologist to manage the decline in your kidney function, and a psychologist to help you cope with loss.

If each specialist prescribes a medication (or two or three) for you, how can you be sure that some medications aren’t interacting negatively with other medications? What if your gastroenterologist said it’s ok if you take curcumin and ginger to alleviate heartburn, but your cardiologist says they are contraindicated with coumadin?

A primary care doctor can coordinate care for you, overseeing all your medications to avoid accidental side effects or overdoses. However, you cannot expect your primary care provider to know every time you have a new diagnosis, treatment plan, or medication. It is your responsibility to inform your provider.

We have made a blank medication list for you to print out and fill in before your doctor appointments. Each time you are prescribed a new medication, fill in the blanks. These details may be important in managing your symptoms. Some examples:

  • The first date you took the new medication – If you develop unusual confusion or balance issues, your doctor can review recent medications to see if these distressing symptoms may be side effects.
  • Reason prescribed – If your provider notices multiple medications prescribed for the same reason, he or she may be able to discontinue one or two.
  • The dosage timing – If you are sleepy during the day, moving a morning medication to evening may resolve your symptoms.
  • Total dosage per day – Your provider may notice the total dosage is higher or lower than normally required to manage your symptoms.
  • Over-the-counter medications and supplements – It is important to include these.  It is not uncommon for an older adult to accidentally take too many NSAIDs (for example) because they weren’t reading the label correctly.

If you find this chart overwhelming, you may want to consider whether you need help with your medications from a family member or a professional service like Advantage Home Care. Our services include organizing your medications in a pill box, calling in and picking up refills, communicating with your doctors, and more.

Contact our home care team any time at 541-440-0933 to learn more about our services in Roseburg, Myrtle Creek, Winston, and the surrounding areas. We offer a free in-home consultation for your convenience. Contact us today!