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Avoiding Medication Mix Ups For Seniors

November 19, 2015, 08:23 AM

Unlike confusing the days of the week or the names of their grandchildren, if seniors confuse their medications, the results can be disastrous. It can happen to a senior whose memory is not as great as it used to be, or even to a senior who is totally with it. Mistakes can happen to anyone.

That being said, it is extremely important for seniors to have a foolproof way of keeping their medications in order. Here are some ways you can your parents and grandparents avoid medication mix ups.

Use a Medication Case

A medication case with seven compartments for the seven days of the week is crucial. At the beginning of each week, seniors should sort through their medications and place the appropriate pills in the appropriate compartments. If you think that your mom or dad is not with it enough to do it themselves, do it for them or hire a caregiver. The extra time/expense may seem like a hassle, but it can actually save lives.

Create a Master List

Even with a medication box, seniors can still have medication mix ups if they don’t have a Master List of all the medications they need to take every day. The list can be handwritten or printed, but it should be accessible and used every time a senior/caregiver arranges their medications for the week. It should also be updated any time there is a change in their medication routine.

As with the medication case, if a senior is not tuned in enough to do it himself, do it for him or hire a caregiver to help him.

Always Check the Medication They Get From the Pharmacist

It’s not okay, but it happens: pharmacists sometimes give out the wrong medications. To avoid this potentially lethal mistake, seniors should take their Master Lists of medications with them when they go to the pharmacy.

First, they should check that their name is in fact on the bottle – sometimes people end up with other people’s medications! Second, they should check the medication’s name – many drugs have similar names but are quite different. (Here you can find a list of drug names that sound very similar but have vastly different purposes.)

Disclose All Medical History When Getting a New Prescription

Medications are a wonderful part of modern medicine and have saved countless lives – when taken correctly. But some medications can be fatal if taken by people with certain medical conditions. For example, if your mom has diabetes, she should tell her doctor before he prescribes her any new medication – because certain medications can be fatal for people with diabetes. If your dad is a smoker, there are certain medications that can increase his risk for heart attack. Doctors are only as good as the information they have, and making sure that they have all the information is up to the patient.

Get By With A Little Help From Their Friends


According to the Food and Drug Administration, there have been 95,000 reports of medication mistakes since the year 2000 – and those are only the mistakes that have been reported. To avoid being part of these statistics, take it upon yourself to help the beloved senior in your life avoid medication mix ups. If your parent or grandparent gets offended that you want to help, explain that you’re not helping because they’re old – you’re helping because they’re human. And even the smartest, most with it people can always use a little help from their friends and family.

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