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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

Living Assistance Services – Senior Home Care



Article Resources:
IRPP Study – Improving Prescription Drug Safety for Canadian Seniors. (2017).
Common Herbal Dietary Supplement–Drug Interactions. (2017).

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