Do you have an elderly loved one that takes a plethora of prescribed medications and/or supplements? Are you concerned that they are not managing their medications effectively? If so, you’re not alone. But that is not the only issue to watch out for. Most elderly adults take several medications to treat a variety of chronic illnesses or to prevent certain illnesses, which can lead to a myriad of problems.
Here are the top 5 common medication issues for aging adults:
1. Side effects affecting thinking and balance
Many medications have potential side effects. Believe it or not, some that are used to treat such conditions as incontinence, blood pressure, sleep, or anxiety can actually impair your cognitive skills and cause confusion. Additionally, they may not only cause an altered mental status, but they can put elderly adults at risk for falls.
2. Symptoms persisting with drug treatment
An essential part of caring for the elderly is optimizing drug treatments. There are multiple factors that contribute to properly prescribing drugs and ensuring the medications are working properly. Often at the beginning of a drug treatment, the older individual is prescribed a specific dose of medication. However, throughout the treatment, the person may be subject to dose calculations and adjustments. This ensures they are receiving the proper amount of medication to treat their illness. Unfortunately, some elderly individuals may forget to visit their physician for follow-up and never receive the adjustments. This can cause the individual to be over or under medicated.
3. Strong side effects
Nearly all medications can cause one or more adverse side effects. Because of the elderly’s increased frequency of drug use, as well as their sensitivity to the effects of drugs, they are more likely to succumb to strong side effects. For example, among older adults, hypertension is the most prevalent chronic condition. If the condition is not properly managed, it can lead to lightheadedness, heart attacks, strokes, or even death. Does your loved one take medications that treat diabetes? Diabetic drugs can cause low blood pressure, resulting in cognitive decline and an increased risk for falls.
4. Trouble remembering or taking medication
Elderly individuals who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia often have trouble remembering or taking their medications due to memory loss. They are often prone to missing doses or taking extra doses due to forgetfulness. Oftentimes, seniors have difficulty managing their own medications, especially if they’re taking pills at different times of the day. One solution is to use a pill box to organize and track medications.
5. Cost of medication
Because of the amount of medications that elderly individuals often take on a daily basis, the costs can be quite high. These multiple monthly medications can cause financial difficulty for those that are on a fixed income. To solve this issue, some seniors may prefer to skip doses or take less than the prescribed dosage to make their monthly medications last longer. Of course, this can exacerbate health-related issues that can lead to other health issues or even death.
Optimizing drug treatments and managing medications are essential for senior health. Assisted living communities can ensure the safety of your loved one by helping them manage their medications. Having a plan to help seniors correctly take their medications and ensuring they follow up with their health provider can help them avoid these common medication issues.