Managing Medications


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Plenty of programs stress the importance of talking to teenagers about the dangers of drug misuse, but few are talking to seniors.
According to a new survey of seniors*, a shocking one out of five taking five or more prescription medications have experienced challenges in managing their medications, including keeping track of which medications they have taken and when.
This type of unintentional medication misuse can lead to devastating consequences. To help families have this critical conversation with their senior loved ones, local Home Instead Senior Care® offices across North America launched a new public education program called Let's Talk about RxSM, offering families free resources and tips, as well as insight into potential medication pitfalls facing seniors. There is also a free Solution Guide available to help families better understand the potential risks associated with this growing problem and provides tools that can help older adults safely manage their medications.
Studies show that medication errors are among the most serious health risks facing seniors, and a key factor leading to long-term care placements, such as in a nursing home. However, for many, medication management is a difficult subject to broach as it is a very personal topic. Often, seniors have been managing this aspect of their life on their own for many years and may not be fully aware of potential pitfalls.
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Family caregivers can accompany their senior to the doctor, use pill boxes and medication trackers, or work closely with a local pharmacy such as Adams Drugs Medicine-On-Time to coordinate all prescriptions. Having the right medication management plan can help seniors stay independent in their homes and avoid adverse drug reactions.
"Discussing medication regimens with a loved one increases their self-confidence to correctly take their prescriptions, over-the-counter medications and vitamins," said Dr. Jane Potter, geriatrician, and director of the Home Instead Center for Successful Aging at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. "This is increasingly important both as individuals age, and the number of medications they take increases. Taking more medications puts seniors at higher risk for a medical emergency from incorrect dosing or adverse medication interactions."
To obtain the solutions guide, or to view other program resources and tips, visit www.LetsTalkAboutRx.com. Or, contact your local Home Instead Senior Care office today to learn how family caregivers can help seniors avoid medication mishaps, including by having a Home Instead® CAREGiverSM provide medication reminders.
*Home Instead, Inc. completed telephone interviews with a random sample of 500 seniors in the United States and Canada to identify their perceptions and habits regarding medication safety. Only seniors who take one or more prescription medications were included in the survey.
Five Tips for Senior Medication Safety
The Home Instead Senior Care network offers five tips for family caregivers to better help their senior avoid adverse drug reactions and stay independent in his or her home:
1.    Have a family or professional caregiver accompany the senior to the doctor to ask questions and ensure full understanding of the medication regimen
2.    Make one doctor the gatekeeper to manage medications and discuss any problems taking a medication, such as the inability to swallow a pill
3.    Use medication organizers, such as a pill box or blister packs.
4.    Use medication trackers
5.    Consider ordering medications from a pharmacy that provides pre-packaged doses of medications and vitamins. For more tips and a senior medications solutions guide, visit www.LetsTalkAboutRx.com.

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