How to Navigate Challenges with Medication Management For Seniors

Medications are something many people need to function daily. Whether it is for diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol, many conditions require medication that needs to be taken regularly. 

Managing medications can be challenging for people at any age, depending on the circumstances. People often need to set alarms or keep a journal to track when they’ve taken their medications due to the business of life and humans’ forgetful nature.

Properly managing medication is especially important for seniors, as they can begin to experience cognitive decline and may take an incorrect medication or an improper dosage without a good medication reminder system in place. This can cause serious effects on seniors if they forget their medicine, take too much of a medicine, or forget to take one altogether. When challenges like these begin to occur, it’s a sign to take action to ensure they take their medicine as prescribed. 

4 Common Medication Management Challenges for Seniors:

  1. Overdosage: accidentally taking too much of the prescription
  2. Under dosage: forgetting to take the prescription or skipping doses
  3. Accidental drug interactions
  4. Not taking medication on time

What Can Be Done to Help Alleviate These Challenges?

  • Set medication reminders or alarms for when you need to take your medication.
  • Keep a log, journal, or notebook, and write each time you take medicine.
  • Organize medicines: keep them in one easy-to-remember place.
  • Follow a routine: take medications at the same time every day; adding this task to another step in your daily routine may help.
  • Review the instructions on the medicine label and follow them thoroughly.
  • Seniors living independently can sort their pills in a pill organizer or similar container weekly.

Other helpful aids:

  • Pill cutters for pills that may be too big to swallow whole
  • Medication apps with reminders and alarms, daily reminders on a smart home device, or phone call reminders
  • Automated pill dispensers or different storage methods for convenience

Medication management is one skill that can help loved ones get a glimpse of the level of care needed for seniors. Seniors who are struggling to maintain a schedule for taking prescriptions can have health issues and be an indicator that intervention is needed. One example of this would be someone who is prescribed medicine to manage high blood pressure. If they neglect to take their medications regularly, they could experience a spike in blood pressure, which could result in a situation where medical intervention is needed. Various scenarios can result in medical issues: forgetting to take prescribed medications, mixing up medicines, or mixing medications that can’t be taken together.

If you have witnessed a senior struggle with managing medication, that is a key sign of needing help from a professional carer. Even small changes in abilities can signal the need for a caregiver, such as declining eyesight or arthritis in their hands, which can make reading and opening prescription bottles difficult.

What to Do When Medication Management Becomes Too Challenging:

When the level of care needed expands beyond a few things and grows to include more daily and routine tasks, an assisted living community may be the solution for you. With this type of care, both you and your loved ones can have assurance that you are receiving adequate assistance and that medication is being managed by professionals. Depending on the senior’s needs, different levels of assistance may be required, and that can change over time. Intervention is needed to help avoid any dangerous effects of mismanagement. When medication management becomes too difficult, it’s time to reach out, see what your options are, and determine what level of care is needed and what would work best for you. Everyone’s ability level is different, and it’s alright to need assistance. It takes bravery to ask for help, and as May is Mental Health Awareness Month, here’s your friendly reminder that needing and asking for help is okay. Whether you’re a loved one of a senior or a senior yourself, it’s okay to ask for help, whatever level of help that may be. 

Managing medication for seniors can be challenging, but with proper monitoring and management, adverse effects can be avoided and positive effects of their medications can be ensured instead. Having a strong support team and the proper level of care can help make this process easier and make medication management less daunting.

Written for Senior Industry Services by Lauren Hope Bartling