Dangers of Medication Mismanagement at Home with Elderly

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This topic is one of the underlying social concerns that does not get the attention that it should. Every day in America our elderly Kansas City citizens are being prescribed medications to provide a greater quality of life, in some cases, quite a few of them. With many studies identifying that most seniors over the age of 68 have an average of 8 to 12 daily medications to take, the chances of accidental overdose are greater now than ever before.

Cherished Transitions serving the Kansas City area knows the dangers that medication mismanagement at home can pose with our elderly loved ones. In this article we will address some of these concerns and ways to prevent this from happening to your elderly loved one.

The Dirty Little Secret

Beyond the experience of the medically trained registered nurses (RNs) at Cherished Transitions there are many medical journals, articles and research papers identifying the dangers of medication mismanagement among our senior population; but there are only a few statistics that can specifically identify the extent of the problem. This is because very few autopsies are performed on the elderly; at many state levels, it’s considered an unnecessary expense to identify the cause of death for someone that “probably” died of natural causes.

However, in researching several articles by medical examiners across the country, it is noteworthy to mention that these experts attribute a very high percentage of deaths due to medication mismanagement or accidental overdose in the elderly population. It has also become a negative stigma to perform full drug analysis on the elderly at the request of the immediate family because no one wants to think that “grandma or grandpa died of a drug overdose.”

This is why this problem must be identified and addressed, to establish awareness of this concern and institute methods of prevention to keep our elderly loved ones from becoming an unknown statistic.

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Methods to Prevent Medication Mismanagement at Home with the Elderly

here are several methods of prevention for medication mismanagement in our elderly Kansas City population. These methods range from awareness and education to product dispensing units and finally managed care as options:

Awareness and Education – By identifying that there is a problem with medication management amongst our elderly, we can begin to look for ways to educate our Kansas City community and family members. There are only so many colors that pills can come in and with most seniors taking 8 to 12 pills per day (some studies have measured up to 25 per day) it’s easy to get confused as to which pill to take. In addition, some medications can react dangerously when combined incorrectly, which is why the timing of medication management can be very important. With such a high volume and variety of medications, it can be difficult for the doctor to properly educate the patient on medication management and control.

Medication Dispensing Products – Available from many retailers or medical equipment suppliers, medication dispensing products and devices can help prevent medication mismanagement in our Kansas City community for our elderly population.   The simplest method would be a seven-day segmented box that you could put a few pills in so it would be easy for your elderly loved one to open and take the correct medication. There is also a more complicated system that allows for multiple medications per hour, day and week. This system has a programmable alarm that would identify when it is time to take the next medication. Some of these also have a lock to keep the medications from accidentally falling into the wrong hands. More advance units can be hooked up through the phone system to notify a medical alert company or care provider if the system is not working properly.

Managed Care – Sometimes the best method to prevent medication mismanagement in our elderly Kansas City community is through managed care. Managed care at this level can be done by a loved one, neighbor or a home health nurse. It is important that the individual responsible for the medication management speaks directly with the physicians that prescribe the medications and the pharmacists that fill them to make sure that they fully understand the medication regimen.

The next level that is available for managed care would be in a assisted living community where medications can be properly dispensed by medical professionals (RNs) in controlled circumstances.

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Medication Mismanagement – Intentional

Of the medication mismanagement circumstances that are reported, having a senior or elderly loved one overdose on purpose is a tragic breakdown that occurs all too often. Cherished Transitions, serving our community in Kansas City, is aware of these types of overdose situations that can occur because of loneliness, depression, the lack of will to live and pain.

Many of these situations have been discussed previously through articles on our Cherished Transitions website.  Regardless of the reason why the end result is the same: a loved one has passed away and it potentially could have been prevented by addressing those needs.

Cherished Transitions is Here to Help

Cherished Transitions is a service provided to the Kansas City community at no charge. Our medically trained registered nurses (RNs) have the passion to assist our elderly community to have a better quality of life. This stems from education and understanding of the different problems facing our elderly community. There will be times when your elderly loved one will be challenged with the mindset of whether managed care in a senior facility is the best option; when that time comes be sure to contact the medical professionals (RNs) at Cherished Transitions for sound advice and information on assisted living communities in the Kansas City area.

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