7 medication safety tips for seniors and their caregivers
April 2, 2012
While medications are designed to help your loved ones cope with the downfalls of aging bodies, sometimes taking several different prescriptions at once can lead to unintended dangers and adverse drug reactions. In order to prevent situations like these, it’s important to keep a watchful eye over all of your relative’s medications and take preventative action. Here are seven tips to keep in mind.
1. Round up everything. Whenever your loved one has a doctor’s appointment, gather up every medication he or she is taking and bring it with you. This includes any prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins and herbal products that your relative is taking. A complete medical history is also a good thing to have on hand.
2. Follow every single direction. Make sure you know everything there is to know about each medication that your loved one is taking. This includes what it’s for, what it looks like, how many need to be taken, when it needs to be taken, storage requirements and possible side effects.
3. Develop a routine. Follow the same medication schedule every day. This will help ensure that your relative doesn’t miss a dose or take medication at the wrong time. Set up a way to keep track of which medications have been taken, whether it’s with a pill box or a daily checklist.
4. Pay attention to symptoms. Once your loved one begins to take a new medication, keep a watchful eye on him or her. Pay attention to signs of any adverse symptoms, like an upset stomach, diarrhea, constipation, rashes, forgetfulness or dizziness. As soon as you notice any of these, notify your relative’s health care provider immediately.
5. Invest in a medical alert system from Bay Alarm. With a medical alarm device, your relative will be able to contact emergency help at the push of a button. This could come in handy in the event of an accidental overdose, dangerous drug interaction or medical emergency.
6. Fill prescriptions at the same pharmacy. Try to get all of your loved one’s scripts filled at the same location, or at least at the same chain of stores. That way, the pharmacist will be better able to monitor potential drug interactions and contraindications.
7. Easy-to-read medications. If your loved one is capable of taking his or her own medications without your help, be sure that he or she can accurately read the labels and see the pills. Glasses, a magnifying glass, good lighting and large-print labels can all help.