Medication Management for Seniors

As we age, many of us are faced with health conditions that need to be treated on a regular basis and most treatments come in the form of prescription medications.  People age 65 and older take more prescription and over-the-counter medicines than any other age group. It is important to be aware that the normal age-related changes our bodies go through along with more medication use can increase the chance of unwanted or maybe even harmful drug interactions.1 

AtCarefocus Companion Services, we understand the importance of providing care and support for your loved ones. As a senior, or someone who helps care for them, it is important to educate yourself on the proper use and storage of medication, as well as understanding different drug interactions that may occur.  

Recent studies show that nearly two-thirds of all visits to the doctor's office end with a prescription for medication.2 Knowing this, it is important to understand that as we age, and our bodies change, it can affect the way medicines are absorbed and used. For example, changes in the digestive system can affect how fast medicines enter the bloodstream. Changes in body weight can influence the amount of medicine you need to take and how long it stays in your body. The circulatory system may slow down, which can affect how fast drugs get to the liver and kidneys. The liver and kidneys also may work more slowly, affecting the way a drug breaks down and is removed from the body. Because of these body changes, there is also a bigger risk of drug interactions among older adults. The four different types of drug interactions are listed below.  

• Drug-drug interactions happen when two or more medicines, including other prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, and nutritional supplements, react with each other to cause unwanted effects, including making one of the medicines not work as well as it should or even making a medicine stronger than it should be.
• Drug condition interactions happen when a pre-existing medical condition makes certain drugs potentially harmful.
• Drug-food interactions result from drugs reacting with foods or drinks. In some cases, food in the digestive tract can affect how a drug is absorbed. Some medicines also may affect the way nutrients are absorbed or used in the body.
• Drug-alcohol interactions can happen when the medicine reacts with an alcoholic drink. Mixing alcohol with some medicines may cause tiredness and slowed reactions.
 

Asking the Right Questions 

It is important to ask the right questions when beginning any new medication especially if you or your loved one is over the age of 65. Always ask the Physician to clarify when you don't know the meaning of a word or when instructions aren't clear. Below is a list of specific questions to use when a Physician prescribes a new medication for you or a loved one.   

Important Questions to Ask: 

• What is the name of the medicine and why am I taking it?
• What is the name of the condition this medicine will treat?
• How long will it take to work?
• How should I store the medication? Does it need to be refrigerated?
• Can the pharmacist substitute a less expensive, generic form of the medicine?
• When should I take it? As needed, or on a schedule? Before, with, or between meals? At bedtime?
• How often should I take it?
• How long will I have to take it?
• How will I feel once I start taking this medicine?
• How will I know if this medicine is working?
• If I forget to take it, what should I do?
• What side effects might I expect? Should I report them?
• Can this medicine interact with other prescription and over-the-counter medicines that I am currently taking?
 

For more information or recommendations on how to ensure safe medication usage for you and your loved ones, download a copy of CareFocus Companion’s Guide to Proper Medication Use and Storage from the resource section at www.CareFocusCompanion.com. 

The information contained within this article is not meant as a substitute for professional medical or nutritional advice and consultation. When differences exist between the information here and information given to you by your healthcare provider(s), you should follow the advice of your healthcare provider(s). Any additional information or clarification needed should be sought from the Physician, Practitioner, Speech Pathologist, or Nutritionist who is familiar with the individual’s health and medical conditions. 

  

Sources: 

http://www.fda.gov  

http://nihseniorhealth.gov   



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