Tips to Avoid Overmedication in Seniors 

The days of “take two aspirin and call me in the morning” have morphed into “take two of these…and two of these…and perhaps one of those, too!” Nearly 40% of seniors are taking at least five different prescription medications each day – not to mention OTC meds, vitamins, and supplements. It is easy to see why overmedication and adverse medication reactions are extremely common in older adults.

Take these measures to avoid medication complications for an older adult you love:

  • Make a list, and check it twice. Create a list of every one of the medications – both prescription and over-the-counter – that a senior loved one is currently taking. Share the list with all of the older adult’s healthcare providers, and present updated lists whenever there’s a change in medications. Then at least twice a year, review the list along with their primary care physician to verify that all of the meds are necessary and that current doses are ideal.
  • Do not be afraid to ask questions. Be sure you understand fully what each medication is for, and make sure there aren’t any contraindications with other medications the senior is taking. A doctor or pharmacist can run the senior’s meds through a drug interaction database to confirm. If you’re unclear about anything else pertaining to the medications prescribed, speak up. You will want to be sure you understand:
    • Exactly when as well as how the meds must be taken (i.e., with a full glass of water, on a full stomach, if they can be broken in half or crushed, etc.) 
    • Whether a generic version is available 
    • How to handle if a dose is missed 
    • What the potential side effects might be   
    • And any other questions you might have
  • Set up a system. As soon as you’ve confirmed that all the older adult’s medications are necessary and you have the information you need to ensure they’re taken correctly, create a system for following physicians’ orders. Depending on the older adult’s cognitive functioning, this might be as simple as a pill box that is filled weekly. Or you might want to count on the services of a home care provider, like Seniorcorp, for help with medication management.

It’s also important to be aware that a doctor should always be consulted before beginning or changing any medications, including vitamins or over-the-counter meds. Some prescription medications belong to the same drug category as OTC meds, which may result in too much of a medication being administered. In other cases, OTC medications or vitamins interact negatively with prescriptions. 

We are always available to help seniors stay healthy and safe. Call us at 757-640-0557 to learn more about how we can help your family with elder care in Norfolk and other surrounding communities. To learn more about all of the different areas we serve, please visit our Service Area page.