Medication Checklist for Senior Safety

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Senior Safety: Medication Checklist

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If you haven’t done a recent review of your senior loved one’s medications, there is no better time than now. To help you get started, El Dorado Hills Home Care Assistance has created this helpful checklist for caregivers and family members.

1. Keep an Updated List of All Medications

Whether your loved one takes one pill a day or a combination of different medications, it’s important to know what each prescription is for and when medications need to be taken. Keep an updated list of medications handy, and consider an electronic version that can be forwarded to family members and anybody else involved with your loved one’s care, like an El Dorado Hills in-home caregiver. The list should include:

  • Names of all medications
  • Prescribed dosage
  • What each medication is for
  • Any special instructions associated with each medication (e.g., take with a glass of juice)

2. Check the Beers List and Consider STOPP/START Criteria

The American Geriatric Society presents an updated list of potentially unsuitable medications for older adults referred to as the Beers List. The purpose of the list is to prevent potential drug interactions and reduce the dependence on medications that may have more negative than positive benefits. A more recent screening tool, the STOPP/START criteria (Screening Tool in Older Persons for Potentially Inappropriate Prescriptions/Screening Tool to Alert Doctors to the Right Treatment), can be used with the Beers List for more comprehensive guidance. A pharmacist can help you understand both the list and the criteria.

3. Determine if the Purpose for the Medication Still Exists

Many medications taken by seniors are meant to control specific symptoms, such as mood, appetite issues, and pain. Pay particular attention to the symptom(s) each medication is supposed to be addressing. If those symptoms no longer exist, initiate a discussion with your loved one’s doctor to determine whether or not those medications can be either reduced in dosage or discontinued all together.

4. Look for Signs of Over-Medicating

There’s a tendency among doctors to over-medicate when it comes to treating conditions common among seniors, including diabetes related conditions like high blood pressure. A high dosage of blood pressure medication, for instance, can cause drops in blood pressure that may result in dizziness and increase the risk of falling while standing or walking. Consider going to the doctor with your loved one to develop a better understanding of how your loved one’s conditions are being treated and discuss any concerns you may have about over-medicating. Signs of over-medicating in seniors may include:

  • Increased fatigue/over-sleeping
  • Erratic or unexplained behavior (not related to an existing condition)
  • Unusual physical symptoms (sometimes caused by higher dosages of medications)

5. Clearly Organize All Medications

Seniors are also prone to over-medicating or under-medicating due to accidentally doubling dosages or skipping dosages. Using pill organizers can make it easier to remember which pills to take at specific times. Consider the following medication organization tips:

  • Make an easy-to-read chart with all medications clearly listed
  • Provide gentle reminders to your loved one
  • Periodically go through medicine cabinets and drawers to get rid of expired medications

Have you noticed your loved one missing dosages or mistakenly doubling up? If phone calls and pill organizers aren’t enough, consider an hourly caregiver in El Dorado who can provide medication reminders in addition to helping around the home, providing transportation, and supporting an overall healthy, high-quality life. Give us a call at (916) 358-3801 or (530) 409-4411 to learn more about the services available near you.