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All entries for June 2016

MEDICATION SAFETY FOR SENIORS

Meds

Elderly patients take about three times as many medications as younger patients do. They are also the greatest consumers of prescribed and non-prescribed medications. There has been a gradual increase in prescription drug use in the United States. According to Medicare, the average number of prescriptions per year, including refills, is currently 28.5 per senior (up from 19.6 in 1992). 15-25 % of seniors are prescribed five or more medications, and one-third of seniors over the age of 85 take 10 or more different medications. That is a lot for anyone to manage and keep track of. Medication errors are happening far too often, and can result in adverse reactions, hospitalizations and even death.  Medication safety for seniors is therefore an important subject to address.

 Tips for Safely Managing Multiple Medications

  • Keep a list of all medications you take. Update and review your medication list regularly. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medication and dietary supplements, such as vitamins and herbs.

  • Make sure that all of your physicians know about every medication you are taking.

  • Make sure your physician knows about any allergies and adverse reactions you have had to medications. This can help you to avoid getting a medication that could harm you.

  • Ask for written information about the side effects your medication could cause. If you know what might happen, you will be better prepared.

  • Fill all your prescriptions at one pharmacy. Most pharmacies have databases that will alert the pharmacist to any medications that may react with each other.

  • Read all the informational safety sheets provided by your pharmacist.

  • Keep all medications organized in an easily accessible place. Be sure to keep them away from heat, humidity and bright light.

  • Many pharmacies are able to fill prescriptions in blister packs. These blister packs keep medications separated by day of the week and the time of day they need to be taken.

  • Keep a calendar or journal of your daily activities, appointments and medication schedule. This is an easy reminder for all the things you are doing.

  • Programmable alarms can be set to remind multiple times a day of when you should be taking your medications.

  • If you use a smart phone, there are many “apps” designed to alert you when it is time to take your medications.

  • Automated pill machines are available which can be programmed to schedule and deliver medications. They are locked after they have been filled, and sound an alert when the medication is due. The user simply pushes a button and the medication is dispensed.  Some also come with alerts that will draw your attention to missed doses and when the medication unit needs refilling.

As one of the many benefits of CAREmasters private duty home health care services, we can help with medication safety and education, along with a wide range of services tailored to your individual needs. Please call us for more information.


BED AND PRESSURE SORES

Alarm

Bed sores and pressure ulcers are very serious risks for seniors and when left untreated can result in severe injuries! They can happen in just a matter of hours when a loved one with delicate skin (as most seniors have) is left in the same position without any movement or relief. Our nurses talk about this with families as we service or assess that everyone needs to pay attention spotting risk areas for bed sores and ulcers. When caught early, they are easy treatable and nothing more than a nuisance. But if left untreated, the results can be profound. With every passing year our skin becomes more fragile and less elastic making it more vulnerable to damage.   Also, the skin loses the ability to regenerate. Injuries last longer and are more severe. If you are noticing that your family member is bruising more easily it is a sign that their skin is becoming more fragile and a warning that you should be on watch for sores and ulcers. If your loved one has any type of mobility issue you need to pay special attention to signs of sores and ulcers. Poor blood flow increases your risk of tissue damage. Diabetes, kidney disease and peripheral vascular disease are conditions that can cause to develop pressure ulcers.

KNOW THE AREAS
Take a look at the  listing below and get to know these 8 areas. If you make efforts to check each of these spots regularly you are on the safe side. If you see any redness or swelling, you have successfully noticed the start of a sore and now all you have to do is prevent it!

  • Back of Head
  • Ears
  • Shoulder
  • Elbow
  • Lower back and buttocks
  • Hip
  • Inner knee
  • Heel 

WATCH OUT FOR MOISTURE AND FRICTION
Moisture accelerates the breakdown of skin and speeds up infection. Most often it is caused by urine and other bodily fluids that are not cleaned properly during a person’s daily routine. This is why one of the most important services CAREmasters offers is to help seniors with their daily routines in order to ensure that this part of hygiene is maintained.
Friction is most often caused by moving in and out of bed. Often seniors with mobility issues need help with this. When that help is given improperly it can result in being slid along the bedsheets rather than being lifted and raised straight upwards. This causes friction that accelerates skin irritation. Here the caregiver has to pay attention. Lifting can be very strenuous and puts the caregiver at risk of injury. But there are lots of supportive medical devices to help with this. Please ask us for more information.

GET ACTIVE
Sores result from pressure without relief, so the caregiver needs to provide relief. That means turning or repositioning every 1-2 hours. This may seem like a lot but skin can be very fragile and it’s the only way to take the pressure off the irritation. Another solution is to look at any of the supportive surface options available such as pressure relief mattresses or seat cushions. Barrier cream is another option that can be applied directly to the problem area and provides protection from moisture on fragile skin. Lastly, nutrition is a very important part of keeping your skin healthy and thereby avoiding sores. A balanced diet full of protein, minerals, vitamins, and calories are all very important to maintain healthy skin. Making sure to drink enough water and fluids to keep body and skin hydrated is another effective strategy. This may all seem complicated but it´s just 8 areas and 3 simple steps to avoid this chronic issue that we see very often with the clients and families that we visit.

If you have questions about any of this or if you like some help setting up a plan to make sure that your loved one is cared for properly the CAREmasters Team is available for you. Please call our nurses to help you with this important issue.