Seniors take more medicines than any other age group in the nation. Medication safety is vitally important. Older adults need to take every precaution in taking their medications appropriately and asking questions regarding the interaction of both prescriptions and over the counter medications that are part of their regimen.
Many caregivers are responsible for a rather daunting task of medication administration to elders who are under medical supervision. Burying their heads in the sand when it comes to the potential for medication errors is not an option. Wherever humans are involved, errors will happen. Medication errors happen to the brightest and best in the medical profession. That’s why it’s best for caregivers to face this issue head-on, objectively and with common sense.
If you administer prescribed medical regimens to an elder, keep the following in mind.
If you have any concerns about an elder’s memory, get thee to thy elder’s doctor. Be clear on prescribed regimens needing to be followed. Even prescription labels or pick-ups may have errors. Many mistakes are avoidable with frequent cross checks and balances.
Some medications are prescribed to be taken at regular intervals or specific times. Others may be weekly or monthly. Timely administration is the therapeutic goal. Calendar reminders in your cell phone, or other handy place, just may save your elder’s life.
Avoid keeping multiple prescriptions in a drawer where you have to wade through to find the prescription your loved one needs at a certain time. Separate elders’ prescriptions from other family members’ prescriptions to avoid mistakes.
I administer multiple insulin injections daily to my octogenarian mother. If there is more than one type of insulin prescribed, avoid different insulin bottles in proximity to each other unless they need to be simultaneously administered. Mom’s night insulin is far right in the refrigerator; daytime insulin, far left. Never the twain shall meet. The right insulin type – one bottle – per injection administration time is all that is needed for the task. The time of day determines which insulin bottle is out.
If anyone speaks to me while I focus on filling Mom’s syringe with the prescribed insulin dose, I firmly and gently say that I do not wish to make a mistake, never taking my eye off the syringe’s measurement gauges. Talking instead of focusing on reading cc’s on syringes is bad medicine and bad news. Not only does Mom understand, but she expresses her gratitude.
Contact your elder’s doctor promptly if you have made, or suspect you have made, any medication error. In certain instances emergency medical intervention may be needed. Don’t delay emergency medical treatment in such situations.
You may also want to use this handy medication log created by the Alzheimer’s Association – http://www.alz.org/national/documents/samplemedicationslog.pdf