Medication Safety is No Accident – Family Caregiver Quick Tip

Each day more than 87 people die and over 2200 are treated in emergency rooms for poisoning, most in the home.

Managing medications is a crucial issue for the safety of seniors.

The American Society of Consultant Pharmacists report that “adverse drug reactions are among the top five greatest threats to the health of seniors“.

They also state that:

  • Adverse drug reactions and noncompliance are responsible for 28% of hospitalizations of the elderly
  • 36% of all reported adverse drug reactions involve an elderly individual
  • Each year 32,000 seniors suffer hip fractures caused by a medication-related problem

With many seniors taking multiple prescriptions plus over the counter medicine, there are many opportunities for accidents to happen.

8 Tips for Safe Medication Use

Here are some tips from the American Association of Poison Control Centers to follow to help keep your senior safe.

  1. Ensure they take only prescription medications that are prescribed for them by their healthcare professional.
  2. Always follow the instructions, don’t take more or less dosage or more frequent doses of prescription medications, especially those intended for pain management.
  3. Don’t share or sell prescription drugs. A medication that is right for one person may have severe consequences for another, even if they have the same condition.
  4. Be aware of the warnings on the labels and follow the precautions listed, such as directions to take with food, a warning the drug may cause drowsiness, or instruction to store the in the refrigerator.
  5. Discard medications, both prescription and over the counter, according to their expiration dates.
  6. Keep medicines in their original containers, out of reach of children.
  7. Participate in the National Drug Take Back Days in the local community.
  8. Follow federal guidelines disposal of unused, unneeded or expired prescription drugs.

If a poisoning occurs, it is important to remain calm.

If your senior has collapsed or is not breathing, call 911.

If your senior is awake and alert dial 1-800-222-1222 for the poison control center and receive instructions from them about what action is needed.

Additional Resources

Here is more information from the Food and Drug Administration for Medications and Seniors.

In addition to the FDA, you might find these articles and a family caregiver video to be helpful: