Taking prescription medication correctly is important for everyone, but it’s especially critical for senior citizens. Seniors are more likely to be on multiple medications, and also have a higher likelihood that those medications interact with or regulate major bodily functions. Not taking those medications correctly can have significant consequences and can greatly impact the safety of your loved one.

Taking Medication Correctly

Taking prescriptions correctly can be more of a challenge than it seems at first, especially if you have multiple medications with very different requirements. Some medications require a very consistent schedule, some need to be taken on an empty stomach, others with food, some once a day, others multiple times – keeping all of it straight can be confusing. Each medication has its own very specific requirements and can counteract with other prescriptions, which is why it’s crucial for your doctor and your pharmacist to have a full list of medications and supplements you or your loved one are taking to keep complications to a minimum.

If a senior lives alone, the likelihood of them not taking their medication correctly can increase. Physical organizers like pillboxes can help to an extent, but if the senior has memory issues, these reminder methods can be more harmful with some seniors taking too many or too few medications in a given day.

Issues Around Taking Medication Incorrectly

Because there are countless prescriptions and combinations, it’s easier to look at some of the key issues incorrect medication use can cause instead of specific medication reactions or issues. Please speak with your doctor about any specific concerns for you or your loved ones.

Drug Reactions

There are multiple factors that can negatively impact your prescription medications. Different prescriptions interacting with each other is the most common type of negative reaction. These reactions can be more minor like additional side effects, or more major like one of the medications not working due to its interaction with other meds. But prescription medicines aren’t the only things that can cause reactions, herbal supplements, food, and alcohol can all cause adverse reactions as well. Even something as straightforward as grapefruit juice can cause dangerous side effects in certain medications.

Falls, the Unexpected Impact of Missing Medications

More than 25 percent of senior citizens fall each year. Seniors have a higher fall risk in general, this can be from lack of balance, poorer vision, but one unexpected cause of falling can be missing medications. Medications that impact brain function, like anti-depressants, opioids, or prescriptions that impact blood pressure can all increase the risk of falling. Even medications for diabetes that lower blood sugar can also increase falls. Talking with your doctor about which medications can increase the risk of falls and if there are other alternatives.

Taking Some of My Medications is Better Than None, Right?

Sometimes yes, sometimes no. It honestly depends on the medication. Starting and stopping certain medications can be dangerous, not easing off of other medications can be worse. Regardless if your loved one is missing medications because they don’t want to take them, or because they forget a complicated schedule, both of these types of inconsistencies can be dangerous. Taking prescriptions inconsistently can cause added strain on critical organs, increase the likelihood of falls, or disturbing dreams or thoughts of self-harm depending on the situation.

Medication Reminders That Work

One of the best solutions for managing a senior’s medication schedule is a trained professional. Most at-home caregiver services offer medication reminders and management as a service. Having a trained professional can help seniors who struggle with any of the issues discussed and more. Few things can compare to the help of another person when it comes to accountability and routine, especially with something as critical as medication schedules.