The Dangers of Poor Medication Management by Seniors

Drug abuse and misuse in the elderly is a worsening problem in Canada and other parts of the world. A big part of the problem is the number of medications that many seniors take. According to the IIRP Study published in 2017, approximately 66 percent of seniors are taking anywhere from 5 to 10 prescription medications. Many seniors are also taking supplements and herbal remedies, which contrary to popular belief, can interact with drugs, resulting in serious effects.

A Serious Problem

Managing multiple medications and supplements isn’t easy at any age, but it becomes increasingly difficult—and more dangerous—as a person ages. This is partly because of cognitive changes that happen naturally over the years. Forgetting to take a dose and forgetting that a medication has already been taken, resulting in doubling up, is very common. Taking a medication at the wrong time or while also taking supplements and herbal remedies can also lead to problems, including overdose.

In-Home Senior Care and Medication Management

Seniors who live on their own or with a spouse have a higher risk of misusing medication. The role of managing medications often falls on the elderly spouse, which is also just as risky. Senior couples often forget doses and sometimes accidentally take the prescription belonging to the other person.

A benefit of having an in-home senior care provider come in to help with medication is having an extra set of eyes to notice things such as side effects from a new medication or supplement or adverse drug reactions. Medications not properly supervised can cause reactions such as:

  • Confusion
  • Unsteadiness
  • Delirium
  • Depression
  • Dependence

Adult children and spouses often believe that simply leaving instructions written down or using a dated pillbox is sufficient for keeping track of medication and doses, but the harsh reality is that many seniors don’t have the cognitive capacity to keep track of or retain the information they once did. According to the IIRP Study, seniors are 5 times more likely than younger Canadians to be hospitalized for adverse drug reactions. The number rises significantly when a senior gets into their eighties.

Our senior care staff includes professional caregivers, registered practical nurses (RPNs) to help with medication management. Our Director of Care, who is also a registered nurse (RN), oversees both our nurses and Personal Support Workers. Together, they help ensure that your elderly parents or loved ones are taking the right dose, at the right time.

Medication is tracked by our caregivers who keep a diary of the medication, dose, and times for you so that you can be sure your loved one is not at risk of complications, including overdose, caused by misuse.

Talk to us about our in-home care services and how we can help.

David Porter, CPCA
Director

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care

 

 

Article Resources:
IRPP Study – Improving Prescription Drug Safety for Canadian Seniors. (2017). http://irpp.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/study-no61.pdf
Common Herbal Dietary Supplement–Drug Interactions. (2017). https://www.aafp.org/afp/2017/0715/p101.html

Choosing the Right Home Care Provider

Home health care agencies are a dime a dozen. A quick search online will give you hundreds of options to choose from. But how do you know which home care agencies or independent Personal Support Wokers (PSW’s) are right for you and your family?

When choosing a home care provider, there are some key things to look for. You’re letting a stranger into your home or the home of an aging loved one, after all. Here’s a list of tips to help you choose the right home care provider for your needs.

What to look for in a home care agency

A fancy website can make any home care agency look impressive and professional online, but an attractive website doesn’t mean professional and reliable service! Look for the following things when choosing your home care provider.

Transparency

The address, local phone number, and the owner’s details should be readily available online and/or in their brochure. Many home care agencies provide only an “800” number with no local contact details to be found. You should be able to call or find the home care agency closest to you without any trouble or confusion.

Long-term employees

If a home care agency has a high turnover when it comes to their staff, then chances are their employees are not happy. The last thing you want is a caregiver who is unhappy in their role. An agency that values their employees and rewards them for great service will have long-term employees. This is important when building a rapport and bonding with your caregiver. Familiarity can make all the difference when the time comes to accept at home care.

Thorough hiring process

Hiring a PSW should entail more than a quick look at a certificate. A reputable home care agency should have an intense screening process that looks at a potential employee’s background, credentials, and personality. Some home care agencies rely on their own training programs rather than hiring qualified caregivers who possess a community college Personal Support Worker certificate or equivalent. An extensive screening process is a must, because anything less could be putting you or your loved one at risk.

Caregivers with at least 2 years’ experience

Along with proper training in the field, you should ensure that a home care agency’s caregivers have at least 2 years of professional experience. A qualified and experienced caregiver has a better understanding of a recipient’s needs and how to best provide it.

A registered nurse on staff

Even if your or your loved ones home care needs are more about help with daily chores rather than medical needs, the home care agency you choose should have a registered nurse on staff. A registered nurse should be available to assess health and caregiving needs so that you get the best possible care.

Flexibility

We never know what tomorrow will bring, but whether it’s an illness or surgery, changes in mobility, or just a change in scheduled appointments or commitments; your home care provider should be flexible enough to accommodate those changes. They should offer a wide range of home care services and offer the flexibility to change your services as needed. There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all service when it comes to senior care. Your home care agency should be able to cater your care to your individual needs.

If you have any questions about how to choose the right home care provider or would like to know more about our varied home care services and qualified and personable caregivers, give us a call. We’re here to help.

David Porter, CPCA
Director

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care

My Dad Does Not Want to Give Up His Independence

After a lifetime spent being the “man of the house” and looking after himself and others, it’s not surprising that your father may be struggling with giving up his independence and accepting help. Chances are that he’s got the same misgivings about senior care that many have and is envisioning a complete loss of freedom and having no say in what he does and how he does it. So what’s a son or daughter to do when dad is in need of home care but just isn’t having it?

Here are some ideas.

Ease him into it

You can start off slow  by having a caregiver show up for short periods to help with odd jobs—preferably the jobs that your dad would be happy to pass off! Our caregivers are able to do odd jobs, such as housekeeping, meal preparation, or driving. We offer the flexibility to enlist as little or as much home care as you need to help your father ease into receiving senior care. You can gradually increase the hours of caregiving he receives to suit his comfort level.

Give him options

If your father fears giving up his independence, the last thing you should do is confirm his fears and misconceptions of what elderly care means by not giving him a choice. Rather than telling him how things are going to be, give him some options to choose from. For example, let him know what types of tasks a senior care professional can take on with and let him choose those he wouldn’t mind help with. We also allow our clients to choose their caregiver, so be sure he knows that he gets a say in who will be in his home and providing home care services. This shows your dad that his opinions still matter and that he has the freedom to make choices.

Let him know he can continue to do things he loves

Even if his age or health has limited his mobility or ability to do certain things on his own, it doesn’t necessarily mean that his days of doing what he enjoys are over. Our caregivers can provide joyful companionship. This means that they can be there as companions, not as wardens restricting what he does and where he goes. Whether it’s getting across town for dinner with friends, a walk in the park, or catching the latest action movie; our senior care providers can be there to do the things that he enjoys.

Listen to his concerns

Ask your father what things about receiving home care concern him. Let him know that you’re listening and taking his feelings into account. Understanding what it is that he’s most upset about can help you decide how to best proceed when arranging home care services. Common concerns that many seniors have about elderly care include:

  • lack of privacy
  • cost
  • having a stranger in the house
  • losing their freedom

Listen to him, be empathetic, and offer solutions and reassurance.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us with any questions and concerns. Sometimes, hearing it from a professional can make all the difference. We’re happy to help!

David Porter, CPCA
Director

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care