Medication management is equally as important for an infant barely out of the womb as it is for the elderly facing their last days. Whether you are parenting a nine year old third grader or the sole care giver of a ninety year old parent, diligence and attention to the prescriptions and/or use of over the counter (OTC) drugs is important to the health and comfort of each individual at any point in their life. Poor medication management results in approximately 6800 needless deaths per year. There are steps you can take, as a parent, caregiver or health care professional to improve this situation and avoid poor pain treatment.
With regard to the elderly population, many different facts can add up to a state of confusion when it comes to dispensing medicines. Medication management in these various situations is of the utmost importance to avoid adverse reactions, overdosing or cause the ineffectiveness of a continuous pain treatment plan. More than 30% of senior citizens are prescribed medications by more than one doctor on a daily basis and almost 75% of those elderly could be using medicines that are out dated. Sometimes this is done inadvertently, especially if they live alone. Sometimes outdated drugs are used due to the high cost of prescriptions and the inability of the aging population to pay due to fixed incomes. Some low-income-level retirees must resort to choosing between eating or getting their prescriptions refilled. Alternately, the elderly who can just barely afford the refills of their prescriptions have tried to stretch their dollars further by shopping various pharmacies in order to save money.
Having to take a variety of doses of medicines, in various forms (liquid, pill, table, capsule) at multiple times a day can be confusing for a clear-minded, well-adjusted 45 year old. Can you imagine the mistakes that can occur when an elderly person uses a number of different drug stores and doctors? It’s understandable there’s a necessity for them to make visits to different doctors for pain treatment of symptoms and ailments specific to the doctor’s specialized field of practice but the lack of tracking this information by either the patient or their health care professional oftentimes only compounds the problem that puts the elderly patient’s health at a high risk. Visiting several doctors and several drug stores means that no one doctor or pharmacist can inform the elderly patient of potentially harmful interactions of the drugs they are prescribed. Overdosing, along with under-dosing (whether by forgetfulness or use of out dated prescriptions), can also be the result of inconsistent medication management.
If you are a CNA or other healthcare professional involved in the care of a young child, these recommendations are applicable in some of those situations of pain treatment, also. Purchase a pill organizer and be sure everyone involved in the patients’ care knows where it is. Keep it in the same place all the time. It could mean the difference between life and death in certain cases of heart medications or allergic reactions. Make a list of all the medications, both prescriptive and OTC, the times they are to be taken and whether they should be ingested with food or before or after eating. Also, if the patient is taking new meds or the pain treatment plan has been adjusted due to weight change, be sure to advise your doctor right away of any reactions. Ask questions of the patient if the medication for a specific issue doesn’t appear to be providing relief or controlling the pain. Keep a medical diary for each day. Obviously, it is important that all the caregivers who are involved in the case of the very elderly be responsible for doing this daily. It is just as important that the doctors involved in their care see this diary when visiting the office. If you have just taken on the task of sole care giver for an elderly person or couple, these are just a few of the steps you can take to help insure the highest level of ongoing medication management for your patient(s).