The average senior citizen takes four prescribed medications per day, not counting vitamins and other over-the-counter medications. Any amount of medication can be difficult to manage, but it is sometimes even harder to understand and account for the side affects that accompany many of these medications.
That is why as caregivers it is important that we take steps to safeguard those we care for and ourselves from the possibility of medication mishaps. A good place to start is to make a list of all medications taken by each person within the home, including the name, dosage, reason for use and time of day each medication is taken.
This list should be copied and posted on the refrigerator and put into the person’s wallet or purse for use at the doctor’s office or in case of an emergency. Lastly, a copy should be given to you for safekeeping. In addition, this allows for easy updating as each time there is a medication change the list will need to be updated, reposted and redisbursed.
It is important to read all of the instructions on all of the medications to be sure that they are being stored properly, you are aware of potential drug interactions and for potential side effects. When a new medication is started, it is a good idea to note or journal about how the medication seems to be affecting your loved one. This will help determine if the drug is being effective or causing side effects. Usually this type of oversight only needs to be done for two to four weeks.
Also, be sure to review all current prescribed and over-the-counter medications in the medicine cabinet for their expiration date and discard those that are outdated. However, please do not throw them in the garbage or flush them down the toilet. Instead, take them to your local pharmacist and ask how they can be disposed of properly.
The final way to help ensure medication safety is to organize your loved one’s pills in a pill organizer, which can be picked up at your local pharmacy for a few dollars. Pill organizers come in daily, weekly and even monthly organizers and are a great way to keep medications mishaps to a minimum.