Managing Medications as You Age Can be a Complex Task
Medications can enhance the lives of people through cure, treatment and prevention of diseases. But sometimes, medications can cause significant harm to older people.
As people get older they often develop multiple co-morbidities. Consequently, they require more medications. By taking several medicines regularly, there’s increased risk of hospital admissions. Many hospital admissions that are a consequence of taking medications among older Australians are actually preventable.
A main reason for medication related hospital admissions is an adverse reaction to the medications taken.
Physiological Changes and Problems With Medications
Everyone knows that as you age your body changes on the outside as well as the inside. Physiological changes occur including how much water and muscle you have in the body. According to Health Direct, these physiological changes can increase sensitivity to certain medications.
Also the body processes and eliminates medications less efficiently than it once did. And finally, as a result of these physiological changes, the body can be more prone to adverse reactions and side effects from the medications. Most notably, more frail and older people are more likely to experience these effects.
Reactions and increased side effects to medications are a major reason for hospital admissions among seniors.
Not only can people experience adverse reactions to medications, taking multiple medications can increase the risk of hospital admissions. As previously mentioned, older people are more likely to experience multiple co-morbidities. As a consequence of suffering from multiple conditions, the use of prescription medications tends to increase, as does the use of over the counter and complimentary medications.
By taking several medications (Polypharmacy) you significantly increase the risk of admission to hospital as a result. This is due to varying factors.
Falls as a Result of Taking Multiple Medications
Firstly, the risk of having a fall increases. Many people go to hospital each year as a result of a fall related injury. The medications that cause a fall don’t necessarily have to be a narcotic or sedative. Other medications such as blood pressure medications can also increase risk. If you’re feeling dizzy, tired, unsteady, confused or unwell in any way, please speak with your doctor about your symptoms and ask for a medication review. You can also ask your pharmacist for a medication review.
Confusion as a Result of Taking Medications
Furthermore, you could experience confusion due to the side effects of the medications you’re taking. Multiple medications can cause confusion. These include medications taken for pain, sleep, anxiety, depression, allergies and asthma. Although many of these medications are prescription medication, some over the counter medications can also cause confusion, such as antihistamines and anticholinergics. There are so many reasons that somebody can experience confusion. If you’re experiencing it you need to consult with your doctor immediately. It could be a result of the medications that you’re taking, or as a result of something else too, such as an acute infection.
Medication Errors as a Result of Taking Multiple Medications
Finally, the more medications someone takes, the greater the risk of medication errors and consequential hospital admissions. Errors will be both consumer related, and from prescribing errors.
Prescribing errors can occur as a result of obtaining an inaccurate medication history and health history. Also, multiple changes in medications prescribed leaves room for errors.
But generally speaking, mistakes occur because people take too much of a medication. They may also take medications that negatively interact with each other. And finally they might forget to take their medications.
To avoid errors in medication administration, keep a medication list. If you want to be more accurate, keep a daily diary of your medications. If you find that you’re frequently making errors with your medications, have a chat with your pharmacist. They can package your medications into a sealed weekly calendar pack. These packs are typically simple to follow, and do reduce the risk of errors.
Moreover, there’s aged care services available for eligible older Australians who’re struggling with aspects of daily living, such as medication management. If you feel that this is you, contact My Aged Care to arrange an assessment.
Other Considerations to Help Reduce Medication Errors
To end, consider attending the same pharmacy for all your medication requirements including complimentary medicines and over the counter medications. That way, the pharmacist can have a record of everything that you’re taking, and help you to manage your medications effectively.
Remember, don’t take any medications without consulting with your doctor first, and avoid a preventable hospital admission as a result of the medications you’re taking.
What you might see as a harmless medication, could in fact be harmful to your health and wellness. Never assume, and make an appointment with your doctor if you have any conerns.