The Importance of Seniors Taking Medications
Recently, I had the privilege of speaking to residents at a retirement community about the importance of diabetes management. One of the main points I stressed to the residents was the importance of taking medications as prescribed and reporting any issues to their doctor or nurse. After the presentation, I was approached by a couple of residents who spoke to me about some of their difficulties in taking medications. One particular woman expressed to me how the medications affected her energy level and caused her feet to swell and make it difficult for her to walk. Now, she does not take the medications as regularly as she should, but instead only if she remembers to do it. After hearing this, I approached one of her caregivers and suggested an alternative that the doctor will now switch to, which will help alleviate her swelling. This story illustrates that many seniors struggle with taking medications, and it is up to the families and caregivers of the patient to recognize when there may be some difficulty. Many times, there are signs and symptoms that indicate when a patient may be having difficulty in taking their medications, and as caregivers it is important that we not only recognize the issues but have solutions which may help them as well. As people age, one of the first hallmark signs that a senior may have issues with medications is memory slippage. Many times, patients have difficulty in remembering when to take medications, especially if they have multiple medications for different health issues. Medication pillboxes are traditionally a great way for caregivers and patients to manage medications, including those which have indicators for day and nighttime doses. Many pharmacies which specialize in elder care have blister packing available which separates the medications into plastic pouches that make it easier for patients to keep up with what they are supposed to be taking, as well as it being much simpler for patients to carry around. There are also medication bottles that have smart caps which track each time a patient uses the medication. So, if the bottle is not touched over an extended period of time, an alert gets sent to the physician which then can investigate why the patient is unable to take the medications. Open communication with your loved ones may reveal issues that prevent the patient from being adherent. Similar to the woman I helped with the swelling, there may be side effects that may make medications more difficult for patients. Having attentive caregivers which ask many questions, will enable patients to feel comfortable in talking about certain difficulties that they may be experiencing. Many people regardless of age, will stop taking medications if they believe it makes them feel worse. This highlights the importance of paying close attention to your loved ones and listening to their health difficulties. It is important in not only ensuring their health and wellness but maximizing the benefits of taking the appropriate medications.