Most in-home care services offer support with medication management, including prescription medication. For those who have such aged care support services, this gives peace of mind to family members of ageing loved ones. But a large percentage of older Australians aren’t recipients of government-funded in-home care. For older people living at home, there are steps to take to manage medications effectively and safely.
If you’ve got a box full of various medications, both over-the-counter and prescription medication, you’re not alone. Many ageing Australians live with health conditions that require medication management. Taking multiple medications throughout the week can pose a health risk to many seniors. In fact, thousands of older people are at risk of avoidable hospitalisations each year due to events with medications. This is a result of medication errors, adverse reactions and harmful effects as a result of polypharmacy.
Medication management and particularly prescription medication management is a preventative measure, reducing risks among the elderly population. You or your loved one is likely taking multiple prescription medications, vitamins, and supplements to treat health conditions. If this is you or your loved one, you’d know that medication mix-ups can and do happen. Errors can unfortunately be harmful and even fatal.
Medication errors occur as a result of various factors. Many aged people live with some cognitive impairment leading to memory problems. Other older people have chronic diseases that can impact on decision making. Living with chronic conditions and multiple co-morbidities also means that you’re likely taking a lot of different medications.
For other ageing Australians, they might have changed doctors a number of times, or been under the care of multiple doctors. This is typical for those who’ve had a few hospital admissions. The prescription medications are frequently changed and/ or doses altered.
Finally, there are a number of older adults living with mental health conditions including anxiety and depression. Such conditions can impair judgement which may result in medication errors.
Doctors monitor prescription medications closely. A regular review from a pharmacist is a good idea too, as certain drugs can’t be taken together. Other drugs need to be taken at specific times or with food. And some medications might be adversely affecting you without you even knowing. For example, some drugs can impact on your memory, balance or ability to control your bladder.
Furthermore, non-compliance is a matter of concern when it comes to mismanagement of medications. Australia’s ageing population are often relying on government benefits such as the Centrelink aged pension. They’re financially strained and the costs of medications can be too much. As a result of this, they may deliberately discontinue taking prescription medications as the costs of prescription drugs rise.
You can prevent medication-related health complications by following a few simple tips:
Firstly, have your pharmacist or local G.P. do a medication review. Talk with your pharmacist whenever your prescription medication and over-the-counter medications change. And request a review. Also, if you’ve been admitted to hospital recently, a doctor has likely altered your medications during your admission. Upon discharge, check-in with your G.P. to discuss your medications moving forward.
Another way to help you better manage your medications is to know exactly what you’re taking and why you’re taking it. Ask your doctor or pharmacist to give you a list of what you’re taking, and why you’re taking it. It’s empowering to have this knowledge.
If you’re already taking regular medications, it’s important that you don’t self-prescribe. Only take the amount that the prescription states. If you’re wanting a review, make an appointment with your doctor. Many prescription medications can be dangerous in higher than prescribed doses.
With polypharmacy being common among older adults, it can be really challenging to organise your medications. Knowing what to take, when to take it and how to take it can be really confusing.devices and services to help you.
Pill boxes from the pharmacy are an affordable way to organise your medications and make your routine easier to manage. They allow you to put your pills into sections labelled according to days of the week, but this does have a downside. The process will have to be re
There’s an even better way to manage your oral medications. Several pharmacies will separate your medications into a pack or sachets for certain times and days. They’re sealed and labelled and include dates and times to take them.
Alternatively, for those elderly people who are in receipt of a government-funded home care package, you might be eligible to get medication assistance at home. A nursing visit to your home on a regular basis to administer your medications is possible through a home care package.
Finally, there are many modern-day services to manage your medications effectively from home. With online prescription medication orders and home delivery services, you don’t even need to leave your home to access your regular medications. There’s even modern technology such as apps on your phone to remind you when to take your medications. Staying safe takes a few steps to manage medications effectively. But it is worth it in the long term.
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