So Many Meds! Managing Medication Complexity with Older Adults

Medication use can be a critical aspect of maintaining health. But as a person gets older, it is common for them to require a variety of medications for different physical and mental conditions. As a result, it can be challenging for the individual and family to manage the various pills and dosages.

The more you and your loved ones know about the risks and benefits of medications, the better you will be prepared in avoiding potential problems. Not only do you need to talk to healthcare professionals about prescription medications, but it is also important to evaluate potential side effects and issues with over-the-counter drugs and supplements as well.

Aging and Medications

Proactive medication management is key for people of all ages. Older adults especially need to be careful about medication usage because age can change the way medicines are used and absorbed by the body. For example, digestive system changes can affect how rapidly medications enter the bloodstream. Circulation, weight, and organ function can also affect how much is needed and the way the drug is broken down in the body.

Additionally, older adults tend to use more medications compared to younger people due to the health concerns that come with age. Recent reports show that people in their 60s take an average of 15 prescriptions annually. As a result, drug interactions are a possible risk, especially when medication usage isn’t monitored by an experienced health professional.

Tips for Managing Medication Complexity

You can take a proactive approach in protecting yourself and loved ones who are taking one or more medications. Here are a few tips to navigate the complexity of prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs:

  • Assistance: Find a healthcare expert to help with organization and planning. It can be helpful to have a trained professional (like a home health nurse) assist with med set-up at home.
  • Reduce Use: When possible, advocate for the reduction of medication use. A Senior Care Pharmacist can work with the physician to eliminate medications that aren’t needed. If it’s appropriate, look for other lifestyle changes or alternative treatments that can be used for symptom management.
  • Monitoring: Ongoing monitoring is key to avoid serious side effects and potential drug interactions. Pay attention to changes in health or new symptoms and report them to your healthcare provider.

At Windward Life Care and Windward Home Health our goal is to support individuals and families in finding the best resources to support overall health. Contact us for information about these services.