Optimizing Medication Management with In Home Care
Today’s post is all reducing the risks of medication errors for seniors in Southwest Houston (Katy).
Prescription medication use increases with age and seniors are at elevated risk of adverse reactions, partly because the kidneys and liver can lose functional ability over time (Reason et al., 2012).
A growing body of research is now highlighting the risks of polypharmacy, which refers to the effects of taking multiple medications concurrently to management co-existing health problems. In a 2012 study, researchers found that 12% of seniors taking five or more medications experienced side effects requiring medical attention compared to 5% of seniors taking only one or two (Reason et al., 2012). Their findings emphasized the specific risks posed by polypharmacy, noting that “even when controlling for age and number of chronic conditions, the number of prescription medications was associated with the rate of emergency department use” (Reason et al., 2012, p. 427-428).
Polypharmacy is a major concern for SW Houston (Katy) residents. According to a new article by American Nurse Today, 44% of men and 57% of women older than age 65 take five or more medications per week; and about 12% of both men and women take 10 or more medications per week. These agents include both prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) preparations, such as vitamin supplements, acetaminophen, and aspirin.
Lowering Polypharmacy Risk With In Home Care
This section shares some valuable medication management tips to help your loved one mitigate the risks of polypharmacy, courtesy of the in home care team at Always Best Care of Katy:
- Ask the right questions when medication is prescribed (and keep in touch with your physician!). A study in the journal of Family Practice indicated that only half of all seniors reported having received medication reviews and having the possible side effects of their prescription medications explained to them by their physician (Reason et al., 2012, p. 427). Take your consultations seriously–prepare a list of questions about how to take your medication, whether it is age-appropriate, possible interactions, and so on.Our in home team can help you organize your questions and communicate with your healthcare provider. If requested, we can join you for your consultation, lending an extra pair of eyes and ears to take down important instructions and contact info. We will act as your advocate and supporter at all times, and do everything possible to open up clear communication channels between you and your provider. We can also book your appointments and follow-ups and provide transportation as needed.
- Bring existing medications to your doctor’s appointments. Take any medications and OTC drugs you may be using to the doctor’s office or pharmacist. This ensures they have all the information they need to write an informed prescription. Our in home care staff can reminder you to do so and carry your various medications.
- Know what medications are deemed unsafe for seniors. The Beers Criteria for Potentially Inappropriate Medication Use is a good starting point. This list was put together by the American Geriatric Society. An in home care worker can assist you with this research, helping you take notes and access online information.
- Set up medication monitoring. Whether you choose to self-regulate using a calendar or automated cell phone reminder, or have your in home care worker monitor your adherence, put a system in place to keep you on track. Professional monitoring is foolproof, and it’s a mainstay of our in home care service.
Learn More About In Home Care and Medication Monitoring in SW Houston (Katy)
Call 281-231-2813 or visit our website to learn more about how Always Best Care of Katy can help reduce your loved one’s polypharmacy risk.
Reason, B., Terner, M., Moses McKeag, A., Tipper, B., & Webster, G. (2012). The impact of polypharmacy on the health of Canadian seniors. Family Practice, 29(4), 427-432.