Seniors at risk for errors in prescription management

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As a community, we are concerned about our youth and their opportunities to obtain and abuse prescription drugs. Parents are encouraged to talk to their children about the dangers of drug misuse.

But what about our seniors?

The two top reasons seniors are hospitalized are falls and medication management errors. As the number of prescription medications someone age 70-plus takes increases, so does the challenge of medication mismanagement and potential health risks.

Studies have shown that the majority of seniors over 70 take four or more prescriptions daily.

Further research has shown that 20 percent of seniors taking five or more prescriptions daily experienced challenges in keeping track of medications taken and what time, putting them at higher risk for a medical issue or emergency. They felt overwhelmed, and 10 percent confessed they had unintentionally made a mistake.

Of those who made unintentional errors, one percent experienced a medical issue or emergency as a result.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 100,000 older adults are hospitalized every year because of an adverse drug event.

Most seniors agree that the ability to remain independent depends on their ability to manage medications. In a recent survey conducted by Home Instead, Inc., one in five seniors felt confident they are taking their meds correctly; however they admit challenges around cost, opening the pill bottles, reading-understanding directions or remembering when to order refills.

How comfortable are seniors in talking with their families or caregivers? Many don't wish to burden others with questions about medications.

How does a senior or a loved one begin the conversation about drugs? Do they know why they are taking the medication and how it's supposed to help? How are they tracking their medications?

Having someone serve as a second set of eyes and ears to understand what each medication is for and when it should be taken provides assurance to the senior and increases his or her self-confidence that they are taking the medications properly.

Where can seniors or their loved ones go to get the answers and guidance they need? A web site, www.LetsTalkAboutRx.com, has been developed to provide the resources needed, including articles and videos.

Rachel Carson is a Certified Senior Advisor and owner of Home Instead Senior Care serving the Lowcountry since 1997.

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