Preventing Medication and Prescription Errors

Medications are prescribed to help, and in most cases, they really do. But when the person who needs them most has them too often, or not often enough, they can harm that person drastically. For this reason, keeping track of a senior's medication intake is a top priority.

How to help

On average, the elderly take about four prescription drugs per day. Consider these amongst their vitamins, supplements and over-the-counter medicines. It's no wonder why they can sometimes forget to take certain pills, or accidentally take them twice or three times in one day. Each new drug you introduce to your body is an another potential factor in a dangerous drug interaction. And the more you take of them, the higher the risk.

If your elderly loved one takes a few medications a day, be sure to be careful and follow these steps. Also, we are always available for consultation and help in the home.

1) Start by helping your loved one create a list of all the medications (including vitamins and supplements) he or she is taking. For each medication, you can include the dosage and reason for use. Keep them, and yourself, reminded of why these medications should be taken. It will help reinforce the seriousness of taking these medications.

2) Make Copies of the List: post one on loved one’s refrigerator, one for your records and one each for your loved one’s pharmacist and doctors. If your loved one starts a new medication, or stops one, be sure to update this list.

3) Buy up a pill box, like this convenient one. It will help your elderly loved one stay organized and healthy.

4) Read the instructions and information that came with each prescription or over-the-counter drug. Note the storage guidelines (most medications should be kept in a cool, dry place) and potential drug interactions. Contact your physician if you notice any problems. Also, note any precautions and possible side effects of each drug.

5) Discard any drugs that are no longer needed, or have expired. Do not flush them down the toilet, as they can end up in our drinking water. View this guide on disposal, provided by the FDA.

Medications can be a life saver, make sure they are respected and treated carefully. If you need any help with this, feel free to contact us.

Pat Ryan

Pat is a senior healthcare specialist. He has been involved in the community since 2007 and has been running A Gentle Touch Senior Home & Health Care since 2012.