Senior Medication Safety to Avoid Medical Crisis – Family Caregiver Tips

Ensuring senior loved ones take their medication safely and avoid a medical crisis is a real worry for family caregivers.

Seniors generally take 5 or more prescribed medications in addition to the many over the counter drugs used daily.

This creates a situation in which many things can go wrong.

Caregiver worries often cover several aspects of medication administration, including these examples.

  • Are they taking the medications that are prescribed?
  • Do they take the right amount at the right time?
  • Are they relying on expired drugs to be effective?
  • Will they have an adverse reaction resulting in an emergency?

According to the Food and Drug Administration, the leading cause of medication errors is taking an improper dose. Adverse drug events result in 700,000 emergency room visits and 100,000 hospitalizations each year.

The statistics bear out the fact that family caregivers should be worrying. Luckily, there are actions that will help prevent medication mismanagement.

Tips for Medication Safety

Here are some steps family caregivers can take to influence improved medication intake among their senior loved ones.

  1. Ensure they take all medicine as prescribed, both prescription and over the counter. It is important to read the labels to understand when to take them, how much to take, and how to avoid interactions when taking any kind of medications. Follow all instructions. Don’t take anyone else’s medicines. No skipping doses or stopping drugs before talking with your physician.
  2. Keep your senior’s medication list up to date with name (both manufacturer and generic), dosage amounts, and medication time. If there are any changes, update the list. Provide this list to the pharmacist and every physician your senior visits to ensure that all medications are necessary and no drug-drug interactions will occur.
  3. Help them avoid medication interactions. Some drugs interact with other drugs or foods that are eaten. It is important to learn about all drugs your senior takes and avoid any interactions. Ask the pharmacist if you have questions. Don’t mix alcohol and drugs. Also, be aware of any side effects of the medications your senior takes and note any potential effects to discuss with the doctor.
  4. Always talk to your senior’s health providers (doctors, nurses and pharmacists) about the medications your senior takes. Include all over the counter medications, herbal supplements, nutritional products, and other substances your senior takes. Learning whether prescribed drugs are still necessary, if any are overlapping, or if they may be counteracting something else is an important part of every medical visit. You can also ask your pharmacist for a medication review which is a good idea to do at least annually.

If you or your senior have questions about drug administration, don’t be afraid to ask to keep your senior safe!

The best idea is to avoid unnecessary drugs, especially over the counter aides.

Additional Resources

There are many more considerations when it comes to medical safety for our senior loved ones. Check out some additional articles you might find helpful to keep them safe!


2 thoughts on “Senior Medication Safety to Avoid Medical Crisis – Family Caregiver Tips”

  1. It is impossible for family caregivers to stay in touch with their loved one for 24/7. But, it is necessary to look after seniors at an older age because they tend to forget important things. Thanks for sharing the tips.

    • You are so right Joseph. Family caregivers even when they live with their senior loved ones can’t be responsible for them 24/7. That is why it is so important to put technology into place when it can help keep them safe in your absence. So many seniors are harmed each year by medication mismanagement that it is important to consider how family caregivers can bridge the gaps in proper dosing of necessary drugs. Thank you!

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