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Medication & The Elderly

Forbes published an interesting story last week that challenges readers to consider whether their parents are receiving too much medication. Our Chicago nursing home neglect lawyers appreciate the dangerous situation. Obviously medication is an important way that seniors cope with various ailments. Yet, adding a new pill for every suspected problem can add up to a host of issues with adverse consequences on the senior’s overall well-being. All adult children should be aware of these risks-whether your parents live on their own or at an assisted living facility, like a nursing home.

Who’s Keeping Track
One key problem with medication and the elderly is that sometimes no one is even keeping track of the total number of prescriptions. Even medical professionals can make clear mistakes when deciding dosages and types of medications. The risk of errors is more potent the more prescriptions that an individual uses. The Forbes author explained how senior’s themselves often have memory problems, meaning that the more complex their medication regime, the more likely they are to make errors that could hurt them.

One visiting nurse explained that in her time visiting the homes of seniors she discovered many instances where a patient’s medication was in disarray. She frequently found shoeboxes with half-empty bottles and duplicate prescriptions from two different doctors.

The Consequences
Elder abuse lawyers appreciate that medication errors can have serious consequences for local residents. This is true whether the error was caused by a medical professional, caregiver, or from a senior’s own mistakes. For example, many elders inadvertently make themselves sick by taking extra doses of medications under the false assumption that they were two different pills. The problem is often referred to as “polypharmacy.”

Experts explain that a growing number of hospitalizations are connected to medication error. The root cause may be oversight by medical professionals or seniors accidentally taking medications incorrectly.

The Causes
It is no secret that seniors have memory problems as they age. This often makes it a challenge to properly understand a confusion medication regime. When doctors do not take the time to write very clear instructions or explanations for these pills, it is easy for a senior to misunderstand what should be taken and when.

Getting Help
It is vital that community members with senior relatives who may be hurt in this way take appropriate action. The first step is getting a handle on the problem. Our Chicago elder abuse lawyers encourage all relatives to make as many visits with seniors as possible, paying close attention to their physical and mental health issues which might suggests problem like medication errors. Identifying the problem is more than half the battle-particularly with senior parents who are less than forthcoming about their own well-being.

If confusing medication problems are identified, one helpful resource is a local pharmacist. Unlike the medical doctor, a pharmacist is often capable of taking the time to explain the overall mediation package. The pharmacist is a great resource to explain the purpose of the medication, side effects, and alternatives.

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