Prescription medication can do amazing things for the health and wellness of aging adults. From reducing the effects of chronic conditions to dealing with symptoms of diseases, medication prescribed by a doctor can really improve an elderly adult’s quality of life. However, making mistakes in taking that medication can lead to serious problems, even accidental poisoning. Because March is Poison Prevention Awareness Month, it’s easy for family caregivers to evaluate medication management to ensure that their aging relative can avoid accidental poisoning.
Medication Mismanagement Can Lead to Accidental Poisoning
Even the most organized elderly adult can struggle with medication management, especially if they are tired, busy, frustrated, depressed or dealing with mild cognitive decline. Other factors like poor vision, bad habits, and general confusion can lead to accidental poisoning via prescription medication. While some mistakes may not lead to dramatic health issues, it’s possible that some mistakes can become quite serious and land the aging adult in the emergency room for accidental poisoning.
Mistakes in taking prescription medication are easy to make. Some seniors may be forgetful and skip a dose or else double up, thinking they skipped a dose when they really did take pills. They may accidentally take the wrong pill at the wrong time or mix them with over-the-counter drugs that they’ve been warned about. Many seniors remove pills from their prescription bottles and put them in other containers or pill boxes. Then having no way to identify them, they take the wrong pills. Still others allow their pills to expire yet take them anyhow. For those with a spouse or roommate on pills, it’s possible to take someone else’s meds too.
Elder Care Providers Prevent Accidental Poisoning
To prevent accidental poisoning in seniors due to medication mismanagement, family caregivers need to put together a plan that includes someone supervising the senior and their meds. Family caregivers can be in charge of this when they are with their aging loved ones. It’s a good idea to put the bottles away, somewhere out of sight, after administering meds because then seniors won’t be prompted to take more when they see a bottle in plain sight.
When family caregivers cannot be with their elderly relatives, many opt for in-home care given by elder care providers. These professionals help seniors with physical or mental challenges to live at home and get through each day’s tasks. This could include dressing, grooming, laundry, light housekeeping and making meals. It can also include medication management. When an elder care provider is on the scene, they can make sure the aging adult is taking the right meds at the right tie. While they can’t give medicine out, they can help read labels, provide reminders of time and amount, and keep a log for the family caregivers to review.
Poison Prevention Awareness Month is an attempt to shine a spotlight on accidental poisoning. Family caregivers can avoid the devastating effects of accidental poisoning in elderly adults by focusing on solutions to medication mismanagement.