Medication Safety Tips for Older People
Getting older is a natural physiological process; after certain years of life, our organs, tissues, and the entire organism start to suffer and become less and less productive. Many internal and external factors affect aging process (as you can see on this link). They cause adverse changes in the body that affect poor health condition.
The aging process inevitably carries the onset of illness. Besides regular visits to doctors and taking prescribed treatments, older adults need to alleviate these negative consequences and keep the quality of life as long as possible. In most cases, older people are taking several different groups of drugs; some to treat existing diseases, and some as prevention.
One of the sure signs of body aging is forgetfulness. If we know our brain function starts to decline after certain years, it is clear why our elderly ones sometimes get confused when it comes to the medications they take. In order not to put them in danger, they or those who care about them should adhere to the following advice.
Adhere Prescription to the T
The first and most important rule is to adhere to the instructions and treatments prescribed by your doctor. Following the guidelines about your therapy and changing some bad habits are an excellent way to heal or reduce the symptoms of a disease.
Do not play with your health, and neglecting scientifically-proven medical knowledge. With respect to your age and life experience, doctors are those who are experts, and you must not forget this fact. Their job is to determine the diagnosis, conventional therapy you will use, and in what way.
Even when you feel better, do not cancel the therapy by yourself. Or, worse, stop taking drugs when you think they’re not working. In older people, treatment is a bit more complicated, because of their age and a variety of medications they take. Many drugs can interact, which can reduce their effectiveness. That’s something you should discuss with your healthcare provider.
Find a Way to Prevent Medication Mistakes
Creating a routine is the best way for older people to maintain therapy and take their medication on time. Sometimes, this is not feasible due to frequent changes in treatment, the introduction of new drugs, etc. If you struggle with many different medications, creating a list of these and purchasing an automatic pill dispenser can be of great help.
If you are not interested in new technologies, the pen and paper will help you create a plan of taking pills, for example, until the next week or the next doctor’s appointment. And if a caregiver or a youngster takes care of your therapy, automated dispensers are handling a variety of medication and schedules. They are a great way never to skip the dose, as they have many options that make it easier to take therapy.
Make it easy to take the therapy. If you can’t read what’s written in small letters, use a magnifier or ask someone younger to read. Large print labels and easy-open cups make it easier to take the treatment, so ask about these items in the pharmacy store.
Keep Up to Date with Doctor(s)
Inform all the doctors you see about every new medication you take. This information is vital to avoid side effects, but also possible negative interactions of certain drugs. Maybe some symptoms or health conditions don’t have to be treated with medication, but supplements and changing lifestyle habits. It’s better to avoid as much synthetic medications as possible; doctors prescribe them only when necessary.
At least once a year, talk to your healthcare provider about the therapies you use. Perhaps a cheaper replacement appeared on the market, or your condition requires a change in dose or the type of medication. The patient and the doctor need to be up-to-date, as any change in the health status may require a change in the therapy.
Don’t change the drug brand on your own. If the pharmacist offers you an alternative for your current therapy, make sure to discuss your doctor first. One medication should have the same composition in every manufacturer, but just in case, let your physician approves this change first.
Discuss With Your Pharmacist
Pharmacists know more information about medications than doctors. They can introduce you with possible side effects, how drugs interact with food or other medications, whether it is better to take them before or after meals, and so on. These instructions are on every drug package, but considering many older people have vision problems, maybe you won’t see these.
Look for generic drugs. Even when your doctor does not mention you this option, know that most medications on the market have their cheaper alternatives. These are not copies or placebo; only substitute drugs that are not commercialized (they do not carry a brand name, have a cheaper package, and so on). Differences in prices may sometimes be significant, and for retired people who take a lot of drugs, every saving is worth in gold.
Synthetic drugs have greatly improved the quality of life in the elderly and relieved the burden of old age. Older adults are able to do many things now their ancestries couldn’t. As medicine has been progressing every year, they should use all benefits of it. To get the most benefits of every medicine you take, it is important to follow the guidelines and trust your healthcare provider.