Most seniors today are on at least one prescribed medication for an underlying health condition. Frequently it happens that the senior ends up having to self-administer at least one dose of the medication on their own throughout the day. Home care service providers usually do not stay with the client around the clock so self-medicating is just one of the tasks that the elderly must learn how to do for themselves.

Making the task of self-medicating easier for seniors is something caregivers and family member should absolutely try to do. The easier the medication is to take, the more likely the client will stick with the regimen. Stopping the medication or skipping doses can have detrimental effects on the senior, depending on the type of medication and which condition it is supposed to treat. Here are some things that caregivers and family members, providing home care or just visiting, should consider and discuss with their elderly loved one regarding their medication program.

  • Does the client understand the correct dosage?
  • Is the client able to read the instructions on the medication container and follow them correctly?
  • Can the senior remember to store, mix, or administer the medications according to the label directions?
  • Would the senior benefit from a pill organizer so that they know exactly which medications to take and when?
  • Can the senior open and close the medication containers by themselves?
  • Does the medication cause any side effects that may pose a fall or seizure risk to the client? If so, the client should not be allowed to self-medicate in the absence of a qualified care provider or family member to monitor them.
  • Is the senior able to swallow the medication without altering them by chewing or breaking the pills? If not, some medications may be available in the liquid form. Family members and caregivers should discuss this possibility with the senior’s pharmacist.
  • Does the client know what to do if they miss a dose? Does the caregiver and family members know what to do if the client misses a dose? It is important to know how to react in a situation like this to avoid possible over-medicating the client. If not, the senior’s pharmacist should be contacted.
  • What if the client accidentally takes their medication twice? What should be done, if anything, to counteract the effects?
  • Does the client know how to call and communicate with Poison Control in the event of an overdose emergency?

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