Medication Risks in Seniors – What Caregivers Need to Know

Medication can be a double-edged sword for elderly people. This is because changes due to aging and disabilities can cause medication related problems (MRPs). This is why caregivers need to give importance to the precise management of daily doses.

Being fully aware of your loved one’s medication, including its side effects, directions of use, and possible drug interactions can save them from any medication-related fatalities.

Here are a few MRPs that caregivers should take into consideration:

Side-effects that impact thinking and balance

Often, the side-effects of certain medications can impact thinking and balance in the elderly. Some of these drugs are:

  • Anticholinergics: This class of drugs is used for various conditions, like nausea, over-reactive bladders, and depression.  A common example is Benadryl, which is an over-the-counter painkiller.
  • Tranquilizers and sedatives: Prescribed for anxiety and sleep issues, tranquilizers can cause a number of side-effects.
  • Medications that affect memory often cause confusion and fall risks in older adults. Caregivers should thoroughly research all such medications to avoid any adverse drug reactions in the long run.

Persistent symptoms

Often, symptoms persist even after the medication has been administered. Caregivers start with a specific dose and typically forget to follow up on whether the drug actually helped with the symptoms or if the dose needs to be adjusted.

This mostly happens when drugs are prescribed for conditions like depression or heartburn. Geriatricians can make sure that all drugs serve their purpose, giving caregivers better control on the management of medications.

Drug interactions

When a caregiver is unaware of all the drugs that are given to an elderly person, the chances are that the medications will interact with each other, causing serious health risks. A common example of this is Warfarin—which is a blood thinner—interacting with antibiotics, among other drugs.

Older adults are hospitalized almost 450,000 times every year due to negligent administration of such drugs. Thus, caregivers have to vigilantly monitor the effects of interacting new drugs in the medication schedules of the people they’re taking care of.

Unintended side effects of drugs

Caregivers have to be mindful of the strong effects of medications, the impacts of which can be stronger than expected. For example, medications for blood pressure can lower it more than expected, causing fall risks and lightheadedness.

Safe management of drugs is crucial because drugs for diabetes can cause low blood sugar episodes causing faster cognitive decline.

Caregivers at AvantGarde Senior Living and Memory Care are trained professionals with experience in monitoring drugs. Get in touch with us to benefit from our senior living community of independent and assisted living for the elderly in Sherman Oaks, CA. Contact us at (818) 881-0055 or take a virtual tour of our premises!