Safe Medication and Aging – 6 Challenges to Overcome Medication Errors

Safe Medication Procedures

There are many challenges we face with aging and taking medications. These obstacles can be overcome by caregivers.

·         Vision: Impaired vision can cause difficulty reading the labels on medications. Ask the pharmacist to provide labels in large print. For over the counter medications, caregivers can make large print labels to place on those bottles. Using a magnifying glass for reading may also be helpful.

·         Hearing: Hearing difficulties can affect the information your aging loved one hears and interprets what is being said. It is important that you have the doctors and other healthcare professionals to speak louder or write things instructions down. Caregivers may also assist their aging loved one by going with them and taking notes.

·         Swallowing: As we age, some may experience difficulties with swallowing some pills and capsules. When a doctor prescribes a medication, ask if it comes in an alternative form. If it does not, ask if it can be crushed. Many medications cannot be crushed, so the doctor may have to order an alternative medication.

·         Memory: Everyone has lapses in memory. For the aging, which are more likely to be forgetful, forgetting a medication can have serious consequences. It is important that a medication system be put into place. Medication systems can range from simple low tech pill boxes to high tech containers that alert your aging loved one that it is time for a dose and has a system in place to alert the caregiver if a dose has been missed.
More Challenges with Safe Medication and How Caregivers Can Overcome Them

·         Dexterity: As we age the ability to open bottles, the difficulty of breaking a pill or giving eye drops to ourselves can become a challenge. Ask the pharmacist to provide easy to open bottle tops for your prescription medications. If a medication is to be cut in half, ask the pharmacist to do that for you when they are filling the prescription. There are easy to use inexpensive pill cutters available. Your pharmacist can recommend one that will suit your needs.

·         Scheduling: The greatest challenge with aging and safe medication is the scheduling of the medications themselves. Caregivers can overcome this obstacle in several ways. The medication systems as discussed above can help. It is important to plan for medications around your aging adult’s daily schedule. Plan a schedule to take medications around meal times or bedtime. These activities can be cues that it is time to take medications. Your doctor or your pharmacist can assist with developing a plan to best suit your need.

These are the six most common challenges that caregivers face when dealing with your aging loved one and medications. Being proactive and developing ongoing assessment of the medication system will increase the assurance of safe medication for the elderly.

About the Author:

Diane Carbo Registered Nurse has more than thirty five years in the nursing field. Her experience as a geriatric care manager, makes her uniquely qualified to help those who want to live out their lives in their own homes. That decision may be made when you are 20, 30, 40 or in fact at any age, with sooner rather than later being ideal. Diane has developed a web site to make people aware of issues and options. You will find a mountain of helpful information that will be continually updated. Please visit to learn more about safe medicine and the elderly. While you are there sign up for Aging Home Health Care Newsletter and receive a complimentary copy of the Home Health Care Planning Guide.
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