We live in a time when there are medications to solve almost any ailment. In fact, the average senior citizen takes about seven different medications per day. These little pills treat everything from high blood pressure to dementia, and are great for helping keep symptoms at bay and improve a person’s quality of life. But when misused, there can be serious ramifications. This month, on April 27, the Drug Enforcement Administration is hosting a National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. Held twice a year, in October and April, this is an opportunity to dispose of prescription drugs by taking them to a registered location. It also serves as a time to raise awareness about the dangers associated with prescription drugs.
One of the major issues discussed around National Drug Take Back Day is opioid abuse. Recent statistics show that in 2017, more than 6 million Americans misused prescription drugs, and the majority of those users obtained the drugs from family and friends. Making sure to dispose of unused prescription drugs properly is a good way to help stem the rising opioid crisis. Our team at Piedmont Home Health is glad to do everything we can to help fight the opioid crisis, and we encourage all of our friends and family to take part in this opportunity. We also see National Drug Take Back Day as a good time to discuss some of the issues surrounding prescription drugs that have a more immediate impact on seniors.
Surveys have shown that around 20 percent of nursing home admissions are due to the inability of a person to self-manager their prescription drug use. For seniors, this can be for a number of reasons. Top on the list is as simple as forgetting to take a pill. We all know how easy it is to get caught up in the activities of your day and completely forget to take a medication. Or on the other side of things, it’s easy to think you haven’t had a medication when you have, and take another dose just to be on the safe side. This can lead to dangerous side effects or even accidental overdose.
Tips to Manage Prescription Drug Use
There are a few ways to stay on top of medication use and make sure to keep yourself safe and healthy.
– Make use of a pill minder. There are many different types of organizers, but they all have the same purpose — to help you manage your medications. Whether you are looking for something that locks in order to protect your loved ones from accidental overdose or just a simple container separated into days of the week, these tools can help in many ways. It allows people to see clearly what pills they have and haven’t taken each day, and
also keeps the pills organized so there’s no confusing one for another.
– Talk with your doctor or pharmacist about possible interactions. Whether it’s drug to drug, drug and food, or drug and condition, certain combinations can be harmful if not deadly when using prescription medications. Understanding each medication and how it works is important in staying safe. Some drugs may not perform the way they’re supposed to when taken in combination with other drugs. Underlying conditions such as heart disease can be a problem with some medications, causing them not to work well or to produce harmful side effects. And its important to understand how food will affect your prescription drugs. Some are made to be taken with food, some are not; some foods may affect how a drug is absorbed, while other drugs might affect how nutrients are absorbed.
– Make sure you understand how and when to take your prescriptions. Whether to take them with food, what time of day, and how often you can take certain drugs are all important instructions to be clear on before leaving the doctor’s office.
– Enlist help when needed. Our caregivers at Piedmont Home Health are a great resource for managing medications. If you or a loved one is having trouble, but would prefer to age in place rather than be admitted to a nursing home, or staff can provide help to ensure medications are taken properly.
For more information on the services we provide, call 336-724-1197.