When used as directed, the benefits of taking medications largely outweigh the risks. Many seniors take multiple medications on a daily basis that help to improve their quality of life and, in many cases, help to give them more independence as well. Medications can help seniors perform tasks of daily living by lessening symptoms of different ailments or stopping the symptoms entirely.
The downside is that seniors who take several medications daily often have more than one prescribing doctor, and this fact alone can make medication management more difficult, especially if one’s doctors are not all on the same page. With medication use comes the possibility of adverse drug reactions and interactions. It can be very dangerous and even deadly if medications are not taken correctly.
In licensed assisted living communities, rules and precautions are put in place in order to protect residents from medication mistakes. Ensuring proper medication management is an essential part of care in an assisted living community, so staff are trained in assisting with medications. If a resident’s physician agrees and staff determine that they can safely manage their own medications, the resident is given the option of self-administering their own medications. If necessary, they may request that specially trained staff assist. Residents with special care needs, such as Alzheimer’s and dementia, who may be in a specialty care assisted living community, are given their medications by a nurse.
At the Cottages, residents who self-administer their medications are expected to know when to take their medications and if they have taken them. They should also have the ability to verify drug names on their medication packs. Residents who are assisted in taking their medications must verify that their names are on the medication packs before staff help to administer the drugs. If the staff at the Cottages are asked to assist with a resident’s medications, the resident is required to use the Cottages’ pharmacy, which helps to avoid coordinating with multiple pharmacies. The Cottages’ pharmacy checks for possible drug interactions as well as residents’ allergies and then packs the medications into individual packets.
The best way to prevent dangerous medication mix-ups and errors is to be aware, educate yourself and others, and ask questions whenever possible. If your senior loved one still lives at home and is having difficulty managing their medications on their own, it may be time to consider assisted living as a helpful tool in keeping your loved one safe and healthy.