According to a study recently conducted by the Home Instead Senior Care network, for seniors 70 years and older, as the number of prescription medications increases, so does potential health risks and challenges with medication management. This research found the majority (57%) of seniors in North America who were surveyed are taking four or more prescription medications daily, with more than one-fourth (27%) taking six or more medications. We find this statistic to be consistent with our Minneapolis home care clients.
The research goes on to show that nearly 20% of seniors surveyed who are taking five or more prescription medications have reportedly experienced challenges in managing their daily medication regimen, including keeping track of which medications they have taken and when. This alarming statistic appeared to increase when both the age of the person and the number of prescribed medications increased.
In order to provide families with the resources needed to help identify potential pitfalls facing seniors and their medications, the Home Instead Senior Care network has introduced the public education program Let’s Talk about Rx. This program will help family caregivers begin the often difficult conversation about this important issue and offers a number of resources to the family and their senior loved one. Sometimes just having the conversation is difficult since medication management can be personal and something seniors may have taken care of on their own for many years. Raising the question of possible medication issues with your senior can be a touchy subject, but can be made easier if approached the right way. Asking any of the following questions may help to open the door to a discussion about these potentially difficult topics:
- “I want you to be as healthy as possible. Do you ever feel unusual after taking your medications, like dizzy, light-headed or confused?”
- I’d like to help you better understand your medications. Is there anything about your prescriptions that concerns you?”
- “That’s an awful lot of pills. How do you manage to keep track of them?”
Conversation starters, like these above, as well as other resources are available on the website www.LetsTalkAboutRx.com. This helpful and easy to navigate website is brought to you by the Home Instead Senior Care network, and serves as an online resource, tools, and solutions center for families and caregivers of seniors. Here you will find informative articles, such as 10 Tips to Help Seniors Avoid Medication Mistakes.
- Make one doctor the gatekeeper to manage medications
- Know why your loved one is taking the medication
- Call the doctor about any changes in how your senior is thinking, feeling or looking
- Keep regularly scheduled appointments and an open dialogue with your loved one’s health care provider
- If your senior is having trouble paying for medications, talk with the doctor
- Tell your senior loved one’s health care provider if you suspect he/she is depressed
- Discuss any problems an older adult may have in taking a medication, such as the inability to swallow or difficulty opening a pill bottle
- Tell a health care provider if you suspect a loved one is forgetting to take a medication
- Consider a caregiver
- Get a pill organization system or service
Consider using a medication tracker worksheet, a pill organization system, or Simple Meds by Home Instead. Simple Meds is a simple and convenient way to take medication correctly. Medications are sorted and conveniently organized into single serving packets by a Simple Meds pharmacist, as well as labeled with the date and time they should be taken. Even using something basic like a weekly pill organizer that has 4 compartments labeled with the dosage time of day would be helpful to keep several prescriptions and dosage amounts, times straight. Our friends at Liberty Oxygen and Medical Equipment have several items that may be helpful, such as a pill splitter or pill organizers. You can stop in to any of their eight Minneapolis/St. Paul metro locations to find these and other products to help keep your senior loved one safe and healthy.
The goal of Home Instead’s public service program Let’s Talk about Rx is to strengthen the role family members can take to help reduce the potential for medication-related health risks, and to help them feel confident about their senior loved one being safe at home. Don’t let your loved one be one of the more than 100,000 older adults in North America who are hospitalized each year due to medical problems. Plenty of programs stress the importance of talking to teenagers about the dangers of drug misuse. But who’s talking to Minnesota seniors? Visit www.LetsTalkAboutRx.com today and start the conversation.