The Most Common Medication Errors Seniors Make – And How To Fix Them
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, medication errors cause at least one death every day and injure about 1.3 million people each year. People aged 65 and older are particularly vulnerable to medical errors.
This week’s blog post is about “The Most Common Medication Errors Seniors Make – And How To Fix Them”. We summarize the reasons for that along with tips on how to recognize mistakes and prevent them in the future.
Caregivers play an important role in keeping seniors healthy by familiarizing themselves with the most common medication errors – and take the following steps to avoid them.
Ignoring dosing requirements
Overdoses are a leading cause of fatal medication accidents. And although prescription drugs are the most common culprits, overdosing is also possible with over-the-counter medications. Seniors, in particular, are at risk for overdose due to their declining memory.
Not taking enough fluids or food.
Many prescription medications also require patients to take the medication with a certain amount of fluid, with or without food. The medications may not work or may harm your loved one if instructions are not followed correctly. Read all medication labels completely and follow all instructions carefully.
Follow the schedule
Stick to a schedule. When the elderly take many medications, it’s easy to lose track of them, which is a common cause of overdoses. Encourage your senior loved one to take his or her medications at the same time each day – for example, at breakfast or before bed. Simple pill organizers are an effective way to ensure seniors take their medications at the correct dosage.
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Help from caregivers
Caregivers should familiarize themselves with the dosing requirements for all prescribed medications. Watch for signs and symptoms of overdose, such as premature medication runoff, mood swings, and oversedation. If you notice changes in thinking, feeling or appearance, contact your aging loved one’s doctor.
Polypharmacy and drug interactions
One of the challenges of caring for seniors is dealing with the dosage and side effects of multiple medications (polypharmacy)., While each prescription may be safe on its own. When you use multiple medications, they can interact in ways that are difficult to keep track off and understand. Your doctor need to be fully informed about your medication plan, otherwise it can become dangerous. He or she may unknowingly add a potentially dangerous drug to the medication list of the patient.
Keep medication lists
Caregivers can avoid this problem by keeping a comprehensive list of all medications and sharing it with a healthcare professional. Keep this list in a handy place and make sure all caregivers have access to it as well so it is readily available in case of an emergency.
Bring the medication list to all appointments so doctors have an overview of the situation. It’s also worth asking your doctor about ways to minimize the medication list. The more pills a person has to take in a day, the greater the likelihood of noncompliance, such as skipping or doubling a dose.
Not only can medications interact with each other, but combining certain foods with certain medications can lead to certain life-threatening results. Some foods can make certain medications ineffective or change the way the drug is metabolized in the human body.
IMPORTANT: Read drug package inserts completely and watch for possible food-drug interactions. If questions exist, consulting with your doctor and/or a pharmacist can help avoid preventable mistakes.
Mixing up medications
In addition many seniors take the completely wrong medications. Name similarities or pills that look alike are the main reason for that.
Sorting medications in advance can help prevent confusion. Filling and organizing pillboxes requires discipline, but it is a particularly effective way to simplify multiple medications. Keep all medications separate to reduce the risk of mix-ups.
Wrong way to take medicine
Unfortunately, seniors sometimes make administration mistakes. For example seniors swallow a pill that they should taken under the tongue or squirt a liquid that should be used as a nasal spray. Administering medications by a route other than the prescribed one can lead to problems and even death.
How to recognize problems
Some seniors are embarrassed or ashamed to talk about their problems with taking medications. Watch for signs that your loved one has problems. Expired medications, unused pill bottles, signs that refills are delayed could be signs for that.
As with most caregiving problems, open communication is important. Let your aging loved one know that medication management is a common problem. You are there to help facilitate the process.
To sum up, caregivers can play an important role in preventing medication errors. From understanding common medication terms to following best practices in medication administration. They help protect the health and well-being of older adults through sound medication management.
We hope you liked our blogpost about the most common medication errors seniors make – and how to fix them. Please do not hesitate to contact us any time.