Signs Your Loved One is Mishandling Medication - and How to Solve it

As individuals progress with age, certain health concerns tend to warrant medication and prescriptions in order to deal with them. We teach children, teenagers, and college students about the dangers of drugs – however, the elderly population is prescribed more medication than any other age group and teaching them the concerns regarding medication management should be paramount for a primary care provider.

Primary care providers should know how to spot signs of medication mishandling and know how to prevent accidents regarding prescriptions.

Why Seniors?

Older age is almost synonymous with chronic health concerns such as arthritis, diabetes, and heart disease. The vast majority of seniors have at least one chronic condition, and most seniors are prescribed a plethora of medications to deal with the effects.

The AARP estimates that the average senior takes four prescription medications per day – This can lead to issues with mixing prescriptions, such as side effects that pose their own health risks.


Signs that Medication is Being Mismanaged


There are three signs your loved one may not be properly taking their prescribed medications: New symptoms, side effects, and unopened pill bottles.

If certain medications aren’t commonly used together, you may see symptoms not typical of each individual prescription. If you notice unusual reactions to medication, it may be a side effect of the combination of multiple medications interacting with one another.

If you see dangerous side effects that are listed under your loved one’s prescription, they may be taking an improper dosage. The typical side effects of medications may also cause confusion or difficulty to perform daily tasks, such as making it difficult to take the necessary medications properly. 

If unopened pill bottles are spotted around a senior individual’s residence, it likely means they aren’t taking their medication in quantities specified. This increases the risk of a medical emergency, and a primary caregiver should look further into the reason this is happening, as it may be more than just simply forgetting.


Preventing Medication Mismanagement


There are a number of methods to ensure a senior loved one’s medications are taken properly. If you notice issues with your loved one’s medication habits, contact their doctor immediately. These are also a few preventative steps to ensure their medication is taken safely:

Attend your loved one’s appointments and ensure you are filled in on their prescriptions and what each one requires. Being aware of your loved one’s medical requirements allows you to better examine how their prescriptions are being managed.

Ensure you and your loved one both understand the side effects of their medications. Preparing your loved one for expected side effects may help them come to terms with how the medication makes them feel – decreasing the likelihood that they stop taking it.

Medication dispensers help your loved one keep track of what pills they need to take, and when. They also eliminate the need to open tricky bottle caps. Automatic dispensers are the easiest – with alarms and blinking lights, they alert your loved one when medication is required, and easily dispense the pills.


Safety First


Even with all these precautions, emergencies happen. Ensure that your loved one has the ability to contact emergency services quickly if an accident occurs. Devices like the 911 Help Now™ Emergency Medical Alert Pendant provide direct contact with 911 no matter where they are, at the push of a button. With a device such as this, you can feel more confident that your loved one is safe on their own. For location services, see the 911 Help Now™ Location Plus.

There are a lot of ways to solve this problem, before or after it occurs. Follow these steps to reduce the risk of medication mismanagement and get your loved one an emergency alert device.