Is an Older Adult You Love Overmedicated?

senior lady looking at medicine bottle

Speak with a doctor or pharmacist to ensure older loved ones are not overmedicated.

The days of “take two aspirin and call me in the morning” have morphed into “take two of these…and two of these…and maybe one of those, too!” Nearly forty percent of older adults are taking at least five different prescription medications every day – not to mention vitamins, supplements, and OTC meds. Because of this, there is a high risk for older adults to become overmedicated or be impacted by adverse medication reactions.

Take these measures to prevent medication problems for a senior you love:

  • Make a list, and check it twice. Create a list of all of the medications – both prescription and over-the-counter – that a senior loved one is currently taking. Share the list with all of the older adult’s healthcare providers, and present updated lists whenever there is a change in medications. Then at a minimum of twice a year, review the list with their primary care physician to verify that all of the medications are essential and that current doses are ideal.
  • Do not be afraid to ask questions. Make certain you understand fully what each medication is for, and confirm that there aren’t any contraindications with other medications the senior is taking. A doctor or pharmacist can run the older adult’s meds through a drug interaction database to confirm. If you’re unclear about anything else pertaining to the medications prescribed, speak up. You’ll want to make sure you understand:
    • How to proceed if a dose is missed
    • Whether a generic version is available
    • What the potential side effects might be
    • Exactly when as well as how the meds must be taken (i.e., with a full glass of water, on a full stomach, if they should be broken in half or crushed, etc.)
    • And any other questions you might have
  • Set up a system. When you’ve confirmed that all the older adult’s medications are necessary and you have the details you need to ensure they are taken correctly, create a system for following doctors’ orders. Depending on the senior’s cognitive functioning, this can be as simple as a pill box that is filled weekly. Or you may want to count on the services of a home care provider, like CareWorks Health Services for medication reminders.

It’s also important to be aware that a physician should always be consulted before beginning or changing any medications, including vitamins or over-the-counter meds. Some prescription medications are part of the same drug category as OTC meds, which may result in an excessive amount of a medication being administered. In other cases, OTC medications or vitamins interact negatively with prescriptions.

We’re always here to help older adults stay healthy and safe. Email or call us at (949) 859-4700 for additional details on our home care in Mission Viejo and exactly how they can benefit a senior in your life. For a full list of all of the communities where we provide our award-winning care, please visit our Service Area page.