by OSSMC Operations Manager, Rita Torres
I recently read an article written by the editor of a Massachusetts newspaper which said “Misuse of prescription drugs among seniors is a growing problem that few people are discussing, according to some elder health advocates.” That made me curious. The insinuation (in my mind) was that seniors are abusing drugs! Yet what I discovered was just the opposite. Seniors are being abused by drugs (well, sorta.)
Comments from Home Instead Senior Care, a national network of in-home senior care providers, and statistics from the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Center of Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality reflected concerns about the number of pills most seniors are taking daily and the problems that can result from a “wrong” mix and match of pills.
The article goes on to say that one in five seniors admit to having trouble managing prescription medication; including tracking which medications they have taken on a given day.
Of further concern is when a senior is moving from a hospital to a skilled nursing center or home, doctors at one facility may change the patient’s prescriptions or prescribe new drugs during such transitions.
The article then adds that mismanagement of medication is one of the most common reasons for emergency room visits for seniors. When you are asking anyone to manage 10 to 15 to 20 medications, of course there is going to be a greater chance for errors and interactions with those medications.
I only take one pill each day, supposedly in the morning. Some days, I forget. I usually catch up and get back on schedule the next day. No big deal, right? Unless it was medication to control diabetes, or to prevent a stroke, heart attack, or seizure; then it could be a big deal. That being said, I can only imagine how difficult it must be to take even more medication on schedule.
So one day, if necessary, you will see me with that big pill sorter box and using any tool available to help myself keep things straight in my mind.