Your elderly mom is a proud and independent woman who still lives alone in the house you grew up in. She’s been having trouble with mobility lately, so you’ve been helping her with housecleaning and transportation.
She takes several medications for her heart and arthritis, but the last time you stopped by medicine bottles were strewn around her bathroom. A couple prescriptions had run out or expired, and when you asked mom about it, she got defensive and said everything was “fine”. But now you’re worried that mom’s not storing and taking her meds properly, and that it could jeopardize her health and wellbeing as she continues aging in place at home. Is careless medicine storage a dangerous problem for seniors? The answer may surprise you.
Improper Medicine Storage Dangers
Growing up, the only pill you saw mom take was a multi-vitamin. But like most seniors, she now has several chronic illnesses and ailments, some of which are life-threatening if not treated with medicine. Most adult children don’t want to be intrusive, and they refuse to ask the hard questions about their parents’ medications. Forgetfulness is a problem for many seniors, and memory inhibitors like dementia further cause medication confusion. According to U.S. government statistics, seniors face these annual medication-related dangers:
- The average American 65-and-over takes 7 different prescription and OTC medications daily.
- Over half of all seniors make mistakes when taking their meds, with roughly 25% placing themselves seriously at-risk as a result.
- Nearly one-in-four nursing home admissions result from seniors not properly taking their medications. On the flipside, most seniors want to age in place within the comfort of their own homes for as long as possible.
- Many elderly adults eventually stop taking some of their meds, mostly due to forgetfulness, improper storage, financial hardship, or a combination thereof.
- Accidental overdoses and hospitalizations are on the rise within the elderly population.
- The average senior has one or more expired prescription bottles in their home.
Storing Medicines Correctly
In a very non-threatening and loving way, approach your mom about helping her correctly store and manage her medications. For example, if you found an expired or forgotten refill bottle, gently point it out, along with your concerns for her health and wellbeing. If she were to move in with you, the process would be much easier. In either scenario, here are some reliable ways to help store a senior’s medications safely to ensure on-time, on-dose compliance:
Read the labels
Pill bottles clearly list all storage requirements on the labels. Read them carefully because many seniors neglect to do so.
A bathroom medicine cabinet or drawer is actually not a good place for medicines. Many medications lose their potency when exposed to heat and humidity caused by running hot water. Dry and temperature-controlled areas like a bedroom or kitchen work best, stored safely away from small children or pets.
Store Daily Medications Separately
There are some pills that your mom needs to take daily, and others only when needed. Compile a list of current meds after speaking to her doctor, and then store them accordingly. Based on the prescribed dosage, conduct pill counts when you’re at her house. When discrepancies arise, discuss calmly with mom what you’ve observed, and how you’d like to assist her.
Discourage Pill Box Use
Many seniors use pill boxes, including digital ones, to pre-sort their medications for the upcoming week. However, pill mixing can cause some medications to lose their potency, so discourage pill box use. More importantly, when a doctor adjusts the dosage many seniors forget that change when loading their pill box, and then continue that potentially dangerous medication-taking trend for several days.
Lock Up Medications When Necessary
If your loved one suffers from dementia or another form of cognitive impairment, it’s best to store all their meds in a locked container to avoid confusion. In those situations, you’ll need to personally administer their medications as prescribed, or hire a licensed in-home caregiver to assist you.
We Help At-Home Seniors Manage Their Medications
Helping an at-home senior loved one safely store and manage their medications can be challenging, especially when you live far away. When you need a hand, call on the medication compliance experts at First In Care, and we’ll step in to help ensure the safety and comfort of your aging at-home loved one. In fact, many of our clients consider us as “extended family”, while serving as their eyes and ears in their loved one’s home. In addition to reliable medicine storage and reminders, our highly-trained home care aids can perform other services like light housekeeping, meal preparation, personal hygiene, transportation and companionship, all delivered in an affordable and flexible package to put your mind at-ease. To learn more on safe medication storage tips, or about the family-trusted senior home care support First In Care is known for in Bradenton and Manatee County, FL, visit: www.firstincare.com now.