Safe Medication Practices for Elders

Getting older usually mens taking more medication. Nearly half of those aged 70 and older take five prescription pills a day. That would be hard to keep up with even at a younger age. Many elders struggle remembering which medication to take and when. A 2012 USA Today study showed a 700% increase in deaths due to medication errors. Here are seven simple tips to make sure you or your loved one is taking medication safely. 

Create a Weekly Calendar. 

This should include all medication you or your loved one is taking. Write out which days each medication should be taken. Make sure to regularly update it. Bring the list to every appointment with your or your loved one’s health care provider. Be sure someone else has a copy of the list as well. If you are taking care of an elderly adult, keep a list at your house too. If you have children that frequently check on you, make sure they have a copy of the list. 

Throw Away Old Pill Bottles.

Throwing away old pill bottles is a simple way to ensure medications aren’t mixed up. 

Set an Alarm.

It can be hard to remember to take a medication when you don’t have a reminder. Luckily, technology’s on your side. Set an alarm for the same time each day. When the alarm goes off, take the medication. 

Pick One Pharmacy. 

This is a simple way to avoid confusion. If the pharmacy knows which medications you or your loved one are taking, they can help prevent harmful medication interactions. They can also give you information on over the counter medications that shouldn’t be mixed with prescribed medications. 

Never Quit a Medication Cold Turkey.

Before you or your loved one stops taking medication, they should talk to their health care provider. Many times when people feel better they believe they are healthy enough to quit taking their medication. This is rarely true. 

Understand the Medication.

Whether you or your loved one are taking the medication, it’s important to know what it does. People are less likely to quit taking medication if they know how it helps and what will happen if they quit taking it. 

Always Turn a Light On Before Taking Medication.

This is especially important when you or your loved one are taking more than one medication. It can be easy to accidentally grab the wrong container when it’s dark. Using a pill box can also ensure you or your loved one doesn’t grab the wrong bottle. Pill box or not, it’s important to take medication in the light. 

Write Down Your Side Effects.

Some medications can seem to have more negative effects than good ones. If you or your loved one are taking the medication exactly as they should, the side effects should be minimal. However, write down all side effects and bring them to your healthcare provider. They will be able to give you tips on minimizing them or change out the medication. 

Taking medication can be overwhelming and dangerous when not done properly. By practicing these tips on safe medication management, you or your loved one can stay healthy.