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Eight Medication Management Resources for Seniors


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February 26, 2016

When a senior or a family caregiver asks you for information on medication management, how do you respond? Do you refer them to the patient information leaflet attached to their prescription? Perhaps you jot down some info on a sticky-note. Or you offer verbal instructions.

Those methods all work, but they represent a sort of piecemeal approach to a serious issue. Adverse events related to medications send as many as 100,000 seniors to the hospital each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Now you have access to a robust, coordinated set of resources where you can refer clients: the Let’s Talk about RxSM program from Home Instead Senior Care®. This program offers a wealth of interactive and shareable tools designed to help promote medication safety within the senior population.

Seniors report challenges around adhering to dosing schedules, opening medication containers, reading/understanding directions and remembering to order refills. And no wonder. According to the Canadian Institute of Health Information about two-thirds (63%) of seniors claim five or more drugs from different classes; nearly one-quarter (23%) had claims for 10 or more.

Furthermore, almost one in five North American seniors recently surveyed by Home Instead, Inc., said they experience medication challenges around cost, opening medication containers, reading/understanding directions or remembering to order refills. Frankly, that’s a prescription for a possible hospitalization due to an adverse event.

To start an industry-wide conversation on senior medication safety, Home Instead, Inc. developed the Let’s Talk about Rx program in partnership with noted geriatrician Jane Potter MD, director of the Home Instead Center for Successful Aging at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. The program includes a suite of eight resources for seniors and caregivers that offers expert advice, interactive tools, checklists and techniques to help seniors safely take medications.

“Let’s Talk about Rx” resources to share with your clients:

1. Rx Risks and Solutions Guide

This interactive online tool walks you through a series of conditions that commonly affect seniors, along with each condition’s potential risk factors for medication mistakes and possible solutions for mitigating the risk involved.

2. 10 Signs Medications could be to Blame for a Senior’s Health Issues

Poor housekeeping. Mobility issues. Insomnia. Each of these could stem from a number of causes, so how do you know if medication is to blame? In this article, Dr. Potter shares 10 signs of potential problems that could result from medication mismanagement or side effects. These 10 signs offer a starting point for deciding when to contact a senior’s doctor about a possible medication issue, because distinguishing between a medication side effect or other potential causes is a process best left to medical professionals.

3. Tips to Help Avoid Medication Mistakes
Seniors face unique challenges when it comes to managing their prescriptions. They generally take more medications than younger people, and their drug list may change frequently. This article offers Dr. Potter’s expert techniques for potentially minimizing the risk of medication mistakes at home.

4. Top Four Drug Types That Sent Seniors to the Hospital
All medications carry the risk of side effects, but these particular drugs account for about two-thirds of all hospitalizations related to adverse events. Can you guess what they are? If you said warfarin and insulin, you’ve nailed two of the four. Find out the other two medications that should be closely monitored by doctors to avoid adverse events in seniors.

5. How to Help Keep Medication Side Effects From Jeopardizing a Senior’s Independence
In a recent Home Instead survey , more than three-quarters of seniors said they felt their ability to live independently hinged on their ability to manage their medications. In this article, Dr. Potter shares three easy-to-implement strategies for helping seniors avoid medication side effects and maintain their independence.

6. Transition Danger: When Seniors Are at Risk of Medication Problems
When a senior transitions from hospital or rehabilitation facility to home, medication errors may be more likely to occur. Why? Because the dosages of familiar drugs may have been changed due to the hospitalization, and new medications added. This article offers Dr. Potter’s expert methods for potentially helping seniors avoid medication problems during transition phases.

7. Medication Plan Should Balance Independence and Safety
Can your senior clients tell you how each of their medications interacts with other drugs? Can they tell you which foods or beverages they should avoid when taking a particular prescription? Can they explain the benefits and risks of each of their prescriptions?

If the answer to any of these questions is “no” (or if you’ve never asked your senior clients about their medications), then you might find this article helpful, which includes a series of easy questions to assess whether or not your senior clients are potentially at risk for making medication errors.

8. How Family Caregivers Can Help

It’s not uncommon for family caregivers to express concern to senior care professionals about their loved one’s ability to manage his or her medications. Their fears may be justified. One in 10 seniors surveyed by Home Instead admitted they have made mistakes in the past when taking medications.

This article offers a handy checklist family caregivers can use to help their senior family member stay safe while not encroaching on their loved one’s privacy or independence.

There’s so much more to medication safety than a senior reading the printout that comes with prescriptions and jotting down instructions or reminders on a sticky note. The Let’s Talk about Rx program offers a suite of materials you can offer to seniors and their caregivers to encourage safer medication management. From the interactive Rx risks and solutions guide to articles with expert advice from leading geriatrician Jane Potter MD, your clients can access a wealth of information at to help them safely manage medications at home.

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Thoughts and stories from others
  1. March 24, 2016 at 9:03 am | Posted by rose prescott

    The above info would be helpful to the seniors we work with.


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