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AL Estate Planning & Elder Law Blog

Monday, May 6, 2019

This National Elder Law Month Focus On Prescription Safety Tips for Better Health in Aging

You may know that taking the wrong dose of a prescription or having adverse reactions to a medication can be life threatening. What you may not know, however, is that such mistakes, allergies, or side-effects, too often lead to emergency room trips for older Americans. Since May is National Elder Law Month, we encourage you to think about parents and grandparents in your life who may need a bit more help when it comes to effectively and safely taking medications.


Unfortunately, age-related issues can impact both vision and memory. Doctor visits are, on average, less than twenty minutes. This time frame may not be enough for your aging loved ones to understand how to take the medication being prescribed safely. As a result of these factors and more, your aging relatives may be in a vulnerable place when it comes to taking medications.


What can you do to help ensure a safe environment for an Older American when it comes to prescription medications? Let us share a few tips to help them stay safe and get the treatment they need when taking prescription medications.


1. Make a list of all prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, and supplements. This information can help your loved one, doctors, family members, or caregivers. Make sure it is updated regularly.


2. Read directions and warnings. It is crucial to take the right dose, at the right time, in the right way. Also, be sure to read labels so you are aware of how medications react with certain foods and drinks. Consult with your loved one’s doctor if you want or need to change anything listed in the directions for the medications. Skipping doses to save money or because he or she thinks the prescription is no longer needed, can potentially have a negative impact on his or her health. Further, in certain conditions, your aging loved one might not always feel the effects right away or at all.


3. Talk to your loved one’s doctor.  Do not be afraid to ask the doctor or pharmacist about your loved one’s medications. It is their job to see how the prescriptions may impact your loved one and interact with anything else they take. In addition, a pharmacist can offer easier to open bottles or make the print larger on their labels. Talking about their medications regularly does not just keep you and your loved one informed, it helps the doctor and pharmacist know your concerns. During these discussions, they may be able to suggest new or cheaper alternatives.


4. Organize and keep track of medication.  Consider using different pill organizers or boxes for the day and evening to ensure it is easier for your loved one to take his or her medications at the right time.  

5. Store medications properly. Many prescriptions should be stored in a dry place at room temperature, but some have special handling instructions. Note any specific requirements, such as keeping them refrigerated or in the dark.  

Following these tips for handling your loved one’s prescription and over-the-counter medications can help them plan forward this National Elder Law Month. This is just one area of elder care that you and your loved ones should discuss to ensure that they have the support they need. We know these tips on elder care may raise more questions than they answer and encourage you not to wait to schedule a meeting to discuss your elder law concerns with us.

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