April 1 – 7 is Medication Safety Awareness Week

While gearing up for Spring cleaning this April, don’t leave out your medicine cabinet. Expired and mislabeled medications contribute to the unfavorable drug events that send many people, especially seniors, to the emergency room every year.

Although medications are intended to help maintain wellness, many older adults suffer from problems related to their medications such as:

  • Side effects that accompany medications increase as our bodies age. For seniors the impact can be severe like a sudden drop in blood pressure causing loss of balance or disorientation.  
  • Persisting symptoms despite the use of a prescribed medication which can lead to under or over medicating.
  • A reluctance to follow-up with a medical practitioner after starting a new drug regimen. Many medications such as those prescribed to regulate glucose levels need to be closely monitored and adjusted over time.
  • Drug interactions due to numerous medications being taken especially when more than one Doctor is prescribing. A good example is the drug warfarin, a commonly used blood thinner, can interact negatively with antibiotics and other drugs.
  • Confusing directions on when and how much to take when medications are taken at different intervals during the day.

As health care professionals who specialize in senior care, we should lead the charge to educate our clients and patients about how to prevent medication mishaps. Here are some ideas to highlight this effort during Medication Safety Week:

  • Demonstrate to your physician referral sources how you work to increase the patient’s understanding of the proper medication regimens, and how you address fall prevention for those patients taking medication that can cause impairment.
  • Hand out Medication Safety Flyers with your company’s information to assisted living facilities in your service area, and offer to host a workshop on Medication Safety. Talk about how to read the drug facts label on nonprescription products to avoid over medicating with multiple products that have the same active ingredients.
  • Create a tip sheet for each of your clients’ caregivers on proper Medication safety for seniors. Check our complete line of Home Health and Hospice educational materials at our web store: www.tagwebstore.com