Top 6 Medication Problems and Prevention Tips

By Marlo Sollitto, AgingCare.com contributing editor

For elderly people, medications can be a lifeline to good healthůor a disaster waiting to happen. When doses are skipped, or too much medication is taken, the results can be deadly.

Medication problems are widespread. According to the Department of Health and Human Services:

55 percent of the elderly are “non-compliant” with their prescription drugs orders, meaning they don’t take the medication according to the doctor’s orders

Dangerous Drug Interactions: Medicines at War Within the Body

Approximately 200,000 older adults are hospitalized annually due to adverse drug reactions

There are many reasons why seniors don’t take their medications as prescribed. Here are some common causes of medication mistakes, and what to do about them.

Vision Problems

For elders who have vision problems, not being able to read small print on labels or distinguish between pills can lead to potentially dangerous misuse.

Solution:

Ask for Large Print. If your parent has vision problems, ask the pharmacist for medications labels in a larger print size.

Related:
How To Prevent Medication-Related Problems
How To Buy Medications Online Safely
Surprising List of Medications Cause Majority of Senior Overdoses

Top 6 Medication Problems and How to Prevent Them originally appeared on AgingCare.com.áVisit AgingCare.com for more information onácaregiving, senior living, and elder care.

Memory Loss

Elders who suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease may simply forget to take their medications, causing them to skip doses. The opposite is also true: if they can’t remember whether they took their medication, they might take it again, causing overdose.

Solution:

Use a Pill Organizer. There are many types of products available: computerized pill box dispensers that ring a designated number if the pills have not been taken, watch alarms and necklaces that ring a reminder.

Seniors and Prescription Drug Addiction

Income

Low-income elders, or those on fixed incomes, may not have the money to buy the medications they need. Some will split pills or cut back on the prescribed dose; others will go without for long stretches of time with no medication.

Solutions:

Use Generics. Generic drugs are the same medications as their brand-name counterparts, but are less expensive. Ask if a generic alternative is available.

Find Financial Assistance for prescription medication. Research Prescription Assistance Programs. Also, ask your pharmacy about discount programs that are available. Go to the drug manufacturer’s website, to see if discount programs are available. And look for low-cost prescription savings plans.

Visit Benefits Checkup.org to find out if your parent is eligible for financial assistance or prescription savings plans.

Swallowing Problems

Some seniors have trouble swallowing a tablet or capsule due to health conditions. They try to chew, crush, break or mix the tablet or capsule in food or drink. This can cause a negative effect because some are long-acting medicines that will be released too fast. Other medicines either will not work properly or could make the person sick.

Solutions:

Don’t Crush Pills. Never chew, crush, break or mix the tablet or capsule in fluid unless the doctor or pharmacist says it is all right to do so.

Ask for Liquids. If your parent has trouble swallowing medicines, ask the doctor or pharmacist if the drug comes in a liquid.

Related:
Guide for Managing Medication and Prescriptions
Top 6 Medication Problems and How to Prevent Them
Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Medications

Top 6 Medication Problems and How to Prevent Them originally appeared on AgingCare.com.áVisit AgingCare.com for more information onácaregiving, senior living, and elder care.

Hearing Loss

Hearing problems can impede an elderly person’s ability to hear instructions that the doctor or pharmacist is saying.

Solutions:

Get Instructions in Writing. If your parent has trouble hearing, talk to them about not being embarrassed about their hearing loss. If they can’t hear what the doctor or pharmacist is saying, ask them to repeat it.

Use Hearing Devices. Make sure your parent wears their hearing aid to doctor’s appointments and pharmacies.

More Tips for Preventing Medication Mistakes

Social Isolation

Many elderly people live alone. Several studies have shown that people who live alone more often fail to comply with medication regimens.

Solution:

Get In-Home Help. If your parent lives alone, consider home health care. Tell the agency that your parent needs help with taking their medications, and inform the agency of the elder’s required medication schedule.

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Top 6 Medication Problems and How to Prevent Them originally appeared on AgingCare.com.áVisit AgingCare.com for more information onácaregiving, senior living, and elder care.

 

60 comments

Siti Rohana
Siti R.4 years ago

thank you for the article. taking care my late dad was an eye-opener and right now my mum's condition proves nothing beats being present of illness and care-giving to grasp its intricacies.

Zee Kallah
Past Member 4 years ago

When I got my recent physical, I told the doctor "Don't you give me any poison."

He agreed that meds are poison.

If you think you have to have them that's your business.

I had to get off of all medication to get well.

I go the natural way.

My doctor threatened me, "You'll live forever."

"I don't wanna. Not on this Earth!"

Rita White
Rita White4 years ago

thanks for sharing

Mary L.
Mary L.4 years ago

At 91 mom is forgetful of anything she doesn't want. She doesn't want to take medicine. It makes her angry that she's old and has to take medicine.

If anyone tries to give her her medicine she gets more angry and says, "I'm a registed nurse, do you think I'm a moron? I take my medicine.

Since the pills are put in a weekly pill box it's easy to see when she has and hasn't taken them.

She also claims to eat all day, except she doesn't. She doesn't eat breakfast, doesn't snack and when she does have a meal she eats less than half of what she has on the plate.

I took care of my husband's grandfather the last 3 years of his life and he didn't eat either.

I think he slowly starved himself to death and I think my mom's doing the same thing. Ensure didn't work in either case and both of them lost their spouses before they died. Neither wanted to be happy and no matter what it was nothing could make them happy longer than a minute.

My sister and I are at our wit's end. Please PM if you do.

Karen Langer
Karen L.4 years ago

Helpful information.

jennifer curtis
jennifer curtis4 years ago

informative article

Zee Kallah
Past Member 4 years ago

Meds often make the problem worse.

Side effects can be horrific.

Try the natural way.

Zee Kallah
Past Member 4 years ago

Meds often make the problem worse.

Side effects can be horrific.

Try the natural way.

Danuta Watola
Danuta Watola4 years ago

Interesting.

Dianne Robertson
Dianne Robertson4 years ago

Julie M's ad for patches that can cure every thing but dandruff is one of the BIG DANGERS OF MEDICATION. People hear about some amazing piece of quackery from somebody on the internet or a streetcorner and rush out to get it. More damage is done by self medicating than anyone will ever know. NEVER take even a suppliment without discussing it with YOUR DOCTOR. HE needs to know ABSOLUTELY EVERY medication you are taking to keep you from having what is politely called "a drug related reaction" WHICH COULD KILL YOU. And ALL NATURAL can be TOTALLY FATAL!