If you are the caregiver for a senior loved one, a common duty may be managing multiple types of medications. From timely ordering to administering the right dosage, medication oversight is a process family caregivers often find confusing and stressful. When several physicians are involved in an older adult’s care, there is a greater likelihood of problems.
One way of lowering the risk for a drug interaction or identifying potential side effects is to schedule a medication review with the senior’s pharmacist. In honor of World Pharmacists Day on January 21, we share information on the role of a pharmacist in keeping an older adult safe from a medication error that lands them in the emergency room.
What is a Medication Review?
Because adults over age 65 can take up to 10 medications per day, the chance for errors is high. Reviewing your older loved one’s medications with a pharmacist can help identify potential conflicts or duplications. It may also be an opportunity to spot medications that are expired or no longer needed.
While the pharmaceutical technology used today can help lower the odds of a dangerous drug interaction, it can be hampered when patients use multiple pharmacies for different types of prescription drugs. Taking time to bring your elder’s medication bottles—both prescription and over the counter—to your local pharmacist is important.
Because the pharmacist is considered to be the expert in drug therapy, it’s a good relationship to nurture. Scheduling an appointment for a face-to-face review, gives your pharmacist an opportunity to learn more about the senior and to educate them on how to get the most of each medication.
During a medication review, a pharmacist may also identify alternative drugs to discuss with the physician that may be more affordable or have fewer risks. It’s a time for the elder, and their caregiver, to ask questions about prescriptions and learn more about potential side effects going forward.
The pharmacist may also make recommendations on issues to discuss with the prescribing physician, as well as how to store medications to maintain their efficiency. Finally, they can offer tips for safely disposing of any medications that are no longer needed.
Safe Medication Disposal Tips
People are often surprised to learn that throwing unneeded medications into the trash or flushing them down the toilet may violate local, safe medication disposal ordinances. Though not all communities have them, these regulations are designed to keep powerful medications from polluting the water supply or ending up in the wrong hands.
If you are wondering how to dispose of a senior’s medications, our first tip is to call your local health department or city hall. They can share if your community has an ordinance in place. For those that don’t, there are helpful tips to follow:
- Find a Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) take back day: The DEA routinely hosts prescription take back days in local communities. These are designed to get drugs that are no longer required off the streets. You can bookmark their website and stop back often to learn of upcoming dates.
- Use a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) drop site: The FDA website will allow you to locate an FDA drug take back site near your home. It also shares information on which medications can safely be flushed down the toilet and which are harmful to the environment or water supply.
Medication Management at Sunrise
At Sunrise communities across the country, medication management services play a vital role in keeping residents safe. We invite you to call the community nearest you or 888-434-4648 to learn more.