Distinguishing between a medication side effect or reaction and an
illness is a process best left to medical professionals. It’s always
important to check with a doctor before drawing any conclusions or
discontinuing any prescribed medications, noted Dr.
Jane Potter, geriatrician and director of the Home Instead Center for
Successful Aging at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.
Medications should never be discontinued without a doctor’s orders.
There are some signs, though, that medications might be to blame for health issues. Following, from Dr. Potter, are 10 signs of potential problems that could result from medication mismanagement or side effects.
New symptoms. Any symptom that is new, such as
dizziness or nausea, could be a medication side effect or reaction. Make
your senior loved one’s doctor aware of any new symptoms he or she may
be experiencing. To that end, it’s important for seniors to always
provide their doctors with a list of medications they’re currently
taking, including a description of who prescribed the medications, in an
effort to avoid any potential adverse drug interactions.
A changing appearance. Medication problems might
cause changes in skin tone and color, lethargy, body weight and fluid
retention. Always seek out the cause of any changes in appearance by
contacting your senior’s doctor.
Full pill bottles. Full pill bottles may mean that
medications are not being taken. If you believe a senior is confused
about what medications to take or forgetting to take medications, your
loved one could be at greater risk of problems. Furthermore, potential
side effects of some medications could cause confusion that might lead
to forgetfulness that could impact the medication regimen. A medication
organization service like Simple Meds℠, which sorts medications into clearly-labeled dose packets, could help your senior loved one stay on track.
Mobility issues. Dizziness and light-headedness are
potentially common side effects of several different types of
medications including those used to treat high blood pressure. Those
side effects can further erode the mobility of your senior who may
already be suffering from arthritis or other issues. Make sure efforts
are made to help safety-proof a home from falls including removing or
securing loose area rugs and other tripping obstacles.
Changes in thinking, reasoning or mental acuity.
There could be many potential causes of forgetfulness and other
confusion. One possible cause is medication problems, which could
include over-medication. It’s important for your senior loved one’s
doctor to fully assess any potential cognitive or mental changes.
Medications could be to blame.
Difficulty performing activities of daily living.
Any potential medication side effects could make self-care a challenge
for your senior, from bathing and toileting to eating and dressing.
That’s why, if left unchecked by your senior’s doctor, some potential
side effects of medications could lead to serious consequences that have
the potential to jeopardize the independence of your older adult.
Trouble sleeping. Some prescription drugs, including
antidepressants, could potentially lead to insomnia and the need for
sleep medications. Talk to your senior loved one’s doctor about ways to
help him/her avoid these types of side effects.
Change in appetite. Some medications impact
appetite, either decreasing the appetite or, as is generally the case
when taking a steroid medication, increasing hunger. If an older adult
is having problems with appetite, ask the doctor about scheduling a
meeting with a nutritionist.
Difficulty maintaining a home. Let’s face it—when an
older adult is not feeling well because of issues with medications,
keeping a home clean, preparing nutritious meals, paying bills and
running errands could become difficult. Why not ask your senior loved
one to consider the services of a caregiver companionship company such
as your local Home Instead Senior Care® office to support your caregiving efforts and to provide assistance for your loved one?
Overall well-being. When medications are not being
taken correctly, oversight can affect an individual’s entire well-being.
Be sure to arrange to have your loved one’s medications reviewed at
least annually or any time there has been a change in prescriptions.
Always consult with your senior loved one’s doctor if you have any concerns regarding a medication regimen and management.
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