Medication Management for the Elderly

The ability of the elderly to manage their medications is often a

concern to the family. These concerns of the family often become

a point of contention between themselves and the elder. At what

point does the family step in?

I am a big believer of trusting your instincts–there is a reason

you are concerned. You did not worry about your parents ability

when they were healthy and strong in their 60’s or 70’s.

Something has you thinking there is a problem now. Trust that !!!

Thirty five percent –read that again—thirty five percent –of

hospital admissions of the elderly are related to either medication

non-compliance, under-medicating, or over medicating.

125,000 elderly DIE each year due to medication


By age sixty five, two thirds of all seniors have two or more

chronic conditions requiring prescription medications.

By age eighty, 70{15aeb35eec840799df247626cfa6821cb9499241e90aba7a245c8546144fd8f4} of elders have several chronic conditions:

Heart Disease

High Blood Pressure


Thyroid Disease


Acid Reflux


Eye Disorders

Lung Disease

Kidney Disease


Each chronic condition that is diagnosed adds an additional

medication or two. This is a way of life for the elderly and is

often too large a task for them to handle without support.

Side effects of these medications and interactions with each

other require the ongoing study of an alert mind.

Elders need to be informed about each medication:

Its Purpose

Correct dosage

When taken

Side effects

Interaction possibilities

Over the counter medications are often used by the elderly

along with vitamins, minerals, laxatives, herbs and pain

remedies. Many of these over the counter medications were

once prescription medications with potential drug interactions

and side effects.

Many people do not understand the importance of informing

their physican of all over the counter medications that they

take routinely or occasionally. By not being informed, physicians

do not have the opportunity to relay drug inter action information

and in fact may be adding a drug that is similar to an over the

counter medication already being taken–over dosing!!

Each time a new prescription or over the counter medicine is

added to the regiment, there is an increase in potenial side

effects or intereactions thus creating an increase in safety

issues. Less than thirty percent of older adults take their

medication correctly. Please read that again–less than 30{15aeb35eec840799df247626cfa6821cb9499241e90aba7a245c8546144fd8f4}

take their medications correctly!!!

Family involvement is imperative if there is any possibility

that your elder is forgetful or confused. If the elder is unable

to relate the purpose of each medication what condition it

is treating when it is taken then your intervention is necessary.


There are many ways to individualize the medication regiment

for your elder. You will know in which area of the process they

need assistance. Please allow them their dignity in choosing

where they need help. There are many ways to provide this


Obtain easy open bottles from the pharmacy.

Ask for large print labels.

Ask for different color medication bottles for specific medications.

Use a pill organizer-7 days-breakfast-lunch- dinner-bedtime.

If able, allow the elder to fill the med box-with supervision.

You fill the medication box. I have four boxes and fill them once a month.

Creat a chart if opposed to a pill box.

Daily reminder phone calls from you.

Regardless of the method you and your elder choose, the most

important issue is attendance at all doctor’s appointments.

Someone needs to go with the frail elder to each and every

appointment even if it means hiring a local private duty

agency. Have your elder assigned to a specific nurse. The

nurse will accompany your elder, get new prescriptions filled,

make follow up appointments, fill the med box, and even call

you with a report. You can get everything you need done.

Money well spent!!!

More information regarding this and other topics may be found at []

Dedicated To Eldercare

Nurse Alice []


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