Tips for Managing Medications & Avoiding Unnecessary ER Visits
Summary: Dr. De Leon offers her tips on how to manage medications with the elderly & seniors living in assisted living. Following her steps and tips can help you, or your loved one to avoid unnecessary visits to the ER due to misunderstanding and mis-using medications.
Author:Maria De Leon exclusively for Assisted Living Directory.
Dr. De Leon is a contributor for Assisted Living Directory
One of the biggest reasons for hospitalizations in my experience is improper medication intake either because of toxicity or deficiency leading to break through of problem it is supposed to prevent like strokes, seizures, high blood pressure, depression etc.
First, each time you visit your physician, make sure to take all your pill bottles with you including both prescription and over the counter medications. Because sometimes seemingly unimportant or trivial medications like over the counter laxatives can at times cause more serious medical problems Tips for Managing Medications for Seniors(e.g. electrolyte abnormalities leading to things like leg cramps, dehydration and even arrhythmias).
Second, always keep a list of all medications with you. Make sure to include name, dosage, times a day taken; what it is for; who prescribed; along with their phone number. Make sure to keep a record at home and one with you at all times.
Third, when you receive a new medication, please take time to understand what it is prescribed for; will it be replacing another medication or taken in conjunction to those already taking; what is dose; any side effects; and especially any dietary restrictions since so many elderly due to the fact that they have a higher risk for strokes and heart attacks may be prescribed anticoagulants some of which have to follow specific dietary restrictions (like foods rich in vitamin K such as green leafy vegetables should be avoid if taking Coumadin-Warfarin, etc).
Fourth, since elderly in assisted living have chronic illnesses many medications might be incremented gradually over time. Make sure you understand exactly how this is to be done and effect of each increasing dose.
Fifth, it is important that when you obtain your medications you maintain a regular schedule which is easy to do when things are going well but much more difficult when life starts throwing curve balls like unexpected sickness of a loved one causing you to travel outside of your comfort zone.
Don't double medications if you miss a dose. Start with next dose. If away from home and run out of medications ask pharmacist to lend you some till you can contact your doctor. Remember, there are a number of gadgets and apps to remind you to take mess on time.
Finally, keep in mind differences in brand vs. generic although they are not supposed to be much difference between the two because according to the FDA generics are supposed to have same active ingredient leading to similar quality and performance but because they are not required to have same inactive ingredient there may be variability noticed from person to person when switched and even between varying generics in same individual. Always make sure to look at the prescription handed to you by pharmacist to make sure you are getting the right medication and dosage since pills may look very different month to month especially if getting generics which can lead to confusion and toxicity (i.e. accidentally take two of the same medication because they look differently).
Copyright © by Maria De Leon
Article by Dr. Maria De Leon, MD exclusively for Assisted Living Directory