Medication Management: Does Mom Have a Drug Problem?

Mar 8, 2015

medication management elderly woman

Patients older than 65 experience a drug error rate nearly seven times greater than those younger than 65 (study done by Medco Health Solutions, 2006). Errors and complications increase with the number of physicians the older patient sees.

Older patients, who have complex clinical problems and take multiple treatments, are particularly susceptible to medication errors. They are often victims of a ‘prescribing cascade’, have increased risks of drug–drug and drug–disease interactions, and often suffer inappropriate use of medications (British Journal of Pharmacology).

Do you find that Mom has an increasing number of pills?

Is she confused about what they are all for and/or how to take them?

Do you find expired pills or unfilled prescriptions?

These are all cause for alarm, as poor medication management can have serious negative effects on one’s health. Over the years, we have encountered clients who come to us with problems falling, fainting, memory concerns/confusion and unnecessary hospitalizations…all caused by medication management problems, overmedication, or interactions between drugs or drugs and disease (i.e. a person on a drug that would be counterindicated due to one of his/her conditions).

Solution: Home Health Medication Management

Home health medication management provides a solution to help seniors (or anyone with chronic disease/complex medical needs) manage and properly take medications. At EasyLiving, our Medication Management RNs supervise clients’ medication management program, setting up pillboxes for them and ensuring they have prescriptions filled in a timely manner.

Depending on the client’s needs, he/she may also have the help of a home health aide trained in medication assistance (we provide in-house orientation and continuing education for all of our caregivers, including seminars on “Assistance with Self-Administration of Medications” and “Medication Error Prevention and Documentation”). Home caregivers cannot administer medications, but can provide reminders and assistance so that clients follow their medication routines as prescribed.

If you are concerned that Mom might have a “drug problem”, contact us today or read more about our Florida Medication Management services. Taking medications properly can reduce unnecessary hospitalizations, delay nursing home/care facility placement and even save your loved one’s life.

Tips for Improved Medication Usage

  • Get a comprehensive assessment. Our care managers can provide an accurate picture of what is going on and pull together disorganized information, to make suggestions tailored to your loved one. Many times medical care has been fractured, and care needs to be better coordinated. It may be that your loved one has been prescribed conflicting medications or just that the routine could be simplified to be more accurate and effective. The assessment looks at all the factors contributing to your loved one’s well-being.
  • Put medication management into place before a crisis. Think of medication management as an essential tool for good health and a way to stay independent longer.
  • Have a regular medication review and ask questions of your medical providers. Ensure you (and your caregiver) understand what a medication is for, how it needs to be taken, any side effects to watch for, and any possible interactions. Ask your primary care physician or a specialist pharmacist (we have often used geriatric specialists who consult in this area) to review the medication list/routine. They may spot not only drug interactions, but medications which are no longer necessary or can be reduced. Consider getting an advocate involved in your healthcare to better navigate and coordinate between providers.

Topics: Home Care, Caregivers, Care Management

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