Lasting Health: Tips for Managing Your Medication

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Amira Choice Sarasota

For more information about the author, click to view their website: Amira Choice

Posted on

Aug 09, 2023

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Florida - Sarasota, Bradenton & Charlotte Counties , Florida - Southwest

Even the sharpest minds can get confused when it comes to taking medication in the right dosage, at the right time. If you're like many seniors, you're taking several prescriptions at one time. According to the health think tank Lown Institute, 42% of older adults take more than five prescription medications. That means keeping track of your medications can be a real challenge. Here are some tips for managing your medication schedule:

Create a Medication Routine

This could be a list or notations on a calendar used just for this purpose. (Some seniors create a separate calendar on their smartphones with alarms for when to take each prescription!) Write down the name of the drug, exact dosage and time to take each of your prescriptions. It's helpful to note if they should be taken on an empty stomach, or with food. Share the list with each of your doctors and/or your pharmacist to double check your accuracy and minimize unsafe drug interactions.

Store Your Medications Properly

Each prescription should be labeled and easy to read. Keep the containers together in one place - many seniors prefer a pill box, small storage container or shelf in the kitchen, especially if they're taking medications to coincide with a meal. Make sure you're following directions for storage (such as refrigerating if necessary or storing out of direct light). If you share your residence, each person should have a different place for medicines so you don't accidentally get them mixed up. Got grandkids coming around? Choose a place that's out of reach for little hands.

Avoid Running Out or Letting Medications Expire

If running low on a prescription is a concern for you, look for a pharmacy that offers automatic refills. That way you won't forget to have the right medicines on hand. Some pharmacies will also deliver to your residence or mail the medications for you so you don't have to make an extra trip out and you don't risk running out of a needed medication.

At Amira Choice, we offer care coordination for residents who are living in our assisted living and memory care. Through our visiting providers, you can receive on-site care from a geriatric physician, nurse practitioner or pharmacist to minimize your risk of problems with medication management or other health issues. For more information about our communities and the health services we have available, contact us.

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Tips for Medication Adherence in Seniors

One of the common concerns for seniors receiving Home Care Services in Fort Myers, Florida is medication management. Seniors who have multiple health issues often have trouble complying with their physicians instructions and advice. This increases the seniors risk for several health complications. To avoid this, they seek the assistance of a caring expert to ensure their health at all times.Solely providing Medication Reminders may not be enough to promote medication adherence. Here are a few tips to help you out:Provide access to health informationHealth literacy is crucial in helping seniors understand the role their medications play in sustaining and improving their health conditions. Seniors can gather information from their physicians, pharmacists, and care providers. Caregivers at our Home Care Agency are trained to impart ample information to minimize potential barriers to non-adherence.Reduce the number of medicationsThe more medications seniors have to manage, the more confusing their treatment gets, and the more likely they are to commit medication errors. If most seniors have difficulty managing multiple medications, and more so, seniors with dementia. Seniors, with the support of a Certified Dementia Care Specialist, need to review their medication regimen and inspect possibilities of reducing polypharmacy.Utilize tools and technology to manage medicationsThere are various tools designed to help patients manage their medications, such as pill containers, medication charts, and mobile applications. Additionally, with a more simplified medication regimen, it will be easier for seniors in need of Respite Care in Florida to find and utilize resources to provide minimal assistance in ensuring medication adherence.Its important to note that a seniors willingness to comply with their treatments greatly contributes to medication adherence. Luckily, our care providers at Nurizon At Home have motivating traits to spark your seniors interest in wellness.

Types of Vaccines for Seniors

Older adults typically have weaker immune systems than the younger population due to the natural effects of aging. This makes illnesses like influenza and COVID-19 inherently more dangerous for seniors. Fortunately, numerous vaccines are available to help prevent getting sick or developing severe complications. August is National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM), an annual observance that highlights the importance of vaccination for people of all ages. Take a look at the types of vaccines for seniors that can help this at-risk age group stay healthy and safe. Flu Shot for Seniors The influenza vaccine (Opens in a new window) gets more attention each year than any other type of vaccine. While there is some debate about its importance and effectiveness, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urge everyone to get a flu shot once a year, preferably in the fall at the start of flu season. Seniors are especially vulnerable to the effects of influenza, making flu shots critical for preserving health and wellness among this age group. In fact, the CDC estimates(Opens in a new window) that at least 50 percent of flu-related hospitalizations occur among people age 65 and older. Then, 70 to 85 percent of flu-related deaths happen within this age group. Here are the types of flu shots available for seniors: High-dose flu vaccines have four times the antigens as a regular flu shot. Clinical trials reveal that older adults who receive the high-dose shot are less likely to get sick than those who receive a standard dose. Adjuvanted flu vaccines have an additive known as MF59 adjuvant that helps stimulate a stronger immune response in individuals with weaker immune systems, such as older adults. This vaccine first became available in the 2016-2017 flu season. Recombinant flu vaccines are intended to provide better immunity among older adults than regular flu shots. Pneumonia Shot for Seniors Complications from pneumococcal diseasesuch as pneumonia, meningitis, and bloodstream infectionsclaim the lives of about 18,000 seniors each year. Thats why the CDC highly recommends the pneumonia vaccine (Opens in a new window) for seniors age 65 and older. Two types of pneumococcal vaccinations are used in the USpneumococcal conjugate vaccines (PCV13, PCV15, or PCV20) and the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPSV23). Individuals who have never had a pneumonia shot should get a dose of PCV13 first, followed by PPSV23 six to 12 months later. Those who have already had a PPSV23 shot can get vaccinated with PCV13 after waiting at least a year. Shingles Shot for Seniors Shingles is a viral infection caused by the zoster virus. Anyone can develop shingles, but your risk is higher if you have had chickenpox. The painful shingles rash can develop anywhere on your body, but the torso is most commonly affected. The rash itself isnt dangerous, but it can lead to complications, which tend to be more severe in older adults. These include: Toxic shock syndrome Brain inflammation Pneumonia  Depression Hearing problems Vision problems Because of the high risk of complications among seniors, the CDC recommends a two-dose shingles vaccination (Opens in a new window) for everyone 50 years and older. Tetanus, Diphtheria & Pertussis (Tdap) Vaccine for the Elderly A vaccination known as the Tdap vaccine (Opens in a new window) protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis, diseases that can be fatal if not treated promptly.  Tetanus enters the body through a cut or wound. It causes the muscles to stiffen painfully, making it hard to move, swallow, and breathe. Diphtheria spreads from person to person. It causes thick mucus to accumulate in the throat, restricting the airway and making breathing difficult. Heart failure, paralysis, or death may occur. Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, spreads from person to person. It causes severe coughing that can lead to rib fractures, difficulty breathing, passing out, vomiting, and loss of bladder control. The CDC recommends the Tdap vaccine for children age 7 and older (preferably 11 or 12), followed by a booster shot every 10 years. Seniors are more vulnerable to complications from tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis and have a higher risk of hospitalization, so keeping up with Tdap booster shots is especially important for this age group. COVID Shot for Seniors 2020 saw the emergence of a novel coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2, which causes the disease known as COVID-19. Older adults and people with underlying health conditions affecting the heart and lungs are more likely to develop serious complications if they contract this illness. COVID vaccines (Opens in a new window) became available in 2021 after monumental efforts to curb the pandemic as quickly as possible. Every approved age group is advised to get vaccinated, with additional doses recommended for people with compromised immune systems.  While the vaccines are not 100% effective in preventing infection or illness, they can significantly reduce the severity of symptoms and minimize the risk of hospitalization and death. Even if you have already had COVID-19, the CDC recommends getting vaccinated because its still unknown whether recovering from the illness protects you from future infection. Hepatitis B Vaccine for the Elderly The hepatitis B virus (HBV) can cause lifelong infection, severe liver damage, and death. The hepatitis B vaccine (Opens in a new window) is available for all age groups and is recommended for adults age 60 and older who are at risk for hepatitis B infection. Risk factors include sexual exposure to another person with hepatitis B, exposure to infected blood, underlying liver disease, and travel to countries where hepatitis B is common. Older adults who do not exhibit these risk factors can still request a hepatitis B vaccine. 

An Epidemic: Substance Abuse a Growing Problem Among Seniors

The United States population of aging adults has grown exponentially over the past decade. According to projections published by the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of Americans aged 60 and older increased by 34 percent from 55.7 million to 74.6 million between 2009 and 2019. Unfortunately, amid their growing numbers, more and more seniors are facing a substance use disorder problem that in large part has remained silent.What Are Substance Use Disorders?According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, substance use disorders include treatable, chronic diseases characterized by a problematic pattern of use of a substance or substances leading to impairments in health, social function, and control over substance use.Seniors are an overlooked group regarding substance abuse issues, but the problem is growing nationwide. Learning the extent and cause of substance abuse among seniors can help improve outcomes for this population.Rates of Substance Abuse and Misuse Among Older AdultsSeniors often get disregarded in conversations about substance misuse. Yet according to some estimates, nearly 1 million adults aged 65 and older were reported to be living with an addiction as of 2018. Today, that number could be much higher.Drug AbuseDrug abuse among older adults is a dangerous problem, in part because health care providers and caregivers so often overlook it. It may even be diagnosed incorrectly as a health condition related to aging.Seniors are likely to use one or more prescription medications. Adverse drug interactions between multiple prescriptions, nutritional supplements, and over-the-counter medication can inadvertently harm ones health.Misuse of certain prescriptions can also lead to a substance use disorder. Opioids, for example, have been prescribed to millions of people suffering from chronic pain. The proportion of U.S. adults aged 55 and up who have sought treatment for opioid use disorder has been surging over the past two decades; between 2013 and 2015 alone, it jumped more than 50 percent. One 2006 study stated that at least one in four older adults were using prescription drugs that have potential for abuse.Many seniors are at risk of developing a dependence on nonprescription, over-the-counter, and illicit drugs as well. Meanwhile, research has suggested that American seniors use illicit drugs at a higher rate than older adults from most other countries. Alcohol UseSurveys show that alcohol use among people 65 and older has increased 22 percent over the past two decades. The extent of alcohol abuse remains unknown due to the impact of underreporting. However, seniors in some studies do report binge drinking and at-risk drinking.People binge drink when they have five or more drinks in one setting. According to one study, more than a tenth of older adults in the U.S. are regular binge drinkers.Research published by the National Library of Medicine defines at-risk drinking as consuming more than three drinks on one occasion or having more than seven drinks in one week. The prevalence of at-risk drinking among men is estimated at 16 percent and 10.9 percent among women.Note that the National Institutes of Health offers a series of free worksheets that can help you evaluate your use of alcohol and learn how to make positive changes.Why Do Seniors Abuse Substances?Seniors are less likely to abuse substances for a euphoric effect. Older adults typically use drugs and alcohol to self-medicate against the physical and emotional pain that comes with aging.Some common causes of substance abuse among people aged 65 and older include:Loss of a spouse or family memberDecreased incomeChange in living arrangementsTrouble sleepingA mental and physical decline in healthConflicts with familyLack of purposeRetirementA seniors coping style early in life may correlate with late-life substance abuse. People with avoidant coping styles tend to rely on substances to deal with stress and change. If seniors spend their lives avoiding stress or problems, they are more likely to develop a late-life drinking problem than those who cope in other ways.Social Factors Leading to Substance Abuse Among Older AdultsVarious social factors appear to increase the chance of late-life drug and alcohol abuse. The following social factors are among those that may lead to increased substance misuse:Unexpected or forced retirementSocial isolationBeing divorced, separated, or singleLack of religious affiliationAffluence or feeling comfortable with the availability of financial resourcesGriefPhysical Factors Leading to Substance Abuse Among Aging AdultsOlder adults with substance abuse disorder typically have these physical factors in common:ComorbiditiesChronic medical conditionsReduced mobilityChronic painPoor health statusPsychiatric Risk Factors Leading to Substance Abuse Among SeniorsPsychiatric risk factors among older adults with substance abuse disorder include:History of substance use disorderCurrent or previous mental illnessFeeling socially isolatedHaving an avoidance coping styleSymptoms of Substance Abuse Among Older AdultsSubstance abuse is a serious medical condition. Prompt diagnosis and treatment can help seniors get the help they need to improve their quality of life. Caregivers and medical providers should watch out for the following symptoms of substance misuse:Depression and loss of interest in previously enjoyable activitiesUse of a prescription drug more often than what is outlined in the instructionsMemory problemsChange in appetiteSocial withdrawalIrritability and sadnessChange in sleeping patternsDecline in hygieneLeading Substance Use Disorders According to RegionSubstance misuse is occurring everywhere in the U.S., regardless of age, but certain areas are seeing abuse of specific types of substances. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality compiled the following data for 2016 through 2018 about regions nationwide:New Jersey and parts of Appalachia have a concentration of opioid-related substance use disorders.The Midwest, Appalachia, Rhode Island, and Nevada saw a higher concentration of alcohol dependency issues than other parts of the country.Appalachia saw a more-significant-than-average concentration of sedative-related substance use disorders.Stimulant-related disorders appeared more in the Midwest, the South, and Appalachia.Cannabis-related substance abuse disorders occurred in Mississippi and other Southern states.Health Impacts of Substance Abuse on SeniorsThe health implications of substance abuse disorder are more significant for older people. Older people are more vulnerable than other groups to the effects of drug use on mental health. Seniors who take prescription medication risk negatively impacting their mental state by mixing their medicine with recreational drugs or by abusing alcohol.Drug and alcohol abuse can also lead to increased fall risk, physical impairment, adverse psychiatric effects, worsening of other physical conditions, and death.In fact, among people aged 65 and over, certain types of opioid overdose deaths increased by 53 percent between 2019 and 2020 alone. The number of alcohol-related deaths for this age group rose by 18 percent over the same timeframe.Recovery Options for Older AdultsWhether a senior should receive inpatient or outpatient treatment depends on their needs. Older adults with a substance use disorder may benefit from inpatient treatment if they meet some of these criteria:A high likelihood of relapseSuicidal thoughts or thoughts of self-harmLikelihood of experiencing withdrawal symptomsNo familial supportPrevious attempts at detoxCo-occurring severe medical conditions that need continuous monitoringSeniors may also need the following to get the most out of recovery:Careful case managementFamily, group, and individual counselingCognitive behavioral therapyHow Can the Health Care Industry Help Older Adults With Substance Use Disorder?Much work is needed to decrease the substance abuse rates among older adults. There is a critical need to address this problem.Primary care physicians are the first line of defense. Education for clinicians should include skill and strategy development to treat substance abuse issues among older adults. Health care workers should know how to identify substance misuse with proper screening and assessments. Understanding co-occurring disorders and the connection between mental illnesses and substance use disorders is also crucial.If you notice signs of addiction in a loved one, it is essential to get them professional help. In addition to improving their quality of life, you may save them from succumbing to this disease.Contact Sharek Law Office at 412-347-1731 or click here to schedule a complimentary 15-Minute Call to learn how we can help. This article is a service of Sharek Law Office, LLC. We dont just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That's why we offer a Life and Legacy Planning Session, during which you will get more financially organized than youve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today to schedule a Life and Legacy Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge. Please note this is educational content only and is not intended to act as legal advice.

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