Here’s to Your Health: Medication Management

A seminar on medication management will be presented at the Oak Park Arms retirement community, Cathy Conlon, RN, from Interim HealthCare will present a talk titled “Medication Management” at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, May 21, at the Oak Park Arms retirement community, 408 S. Oak Park Ave. This seminar is part of the ongoing “Here’s To Your Health” monthly series.

The main reason people are hospitalized or go the emergency room is because of over-the-counter and prescription drug errors. Seniors use prescription drugs almost three times as frequently as the general population, and their use of over-the-counter medications is even more extensive.

Since 1992, the Food and Drug Administration has received nearly 30,000 reports of medication errors.

The elderly make up 13 percent of the population but receive one-third of all prescribed medications. They tend to have more chronic pain issues, use multiple medications and may be experiencing waning cognition, so they are especially susceptible to unintentional misuse or abuse of their medications.

The most common types of medication errors include:
•    administering an improper dose
•    giving the wrong drug
•    using the wrong route of administration

These errors result from a combination of a lack of communication between doctors and patients and performance and knowledge deficits. Almost half of fatal medication errors occurred in people over 60. Seniors are especially at risk for errors because they often take multiple medications. In addition, drug metabolism changes with age predispose seniors to more toxic effects of medications.

Ways to minimize medication errors include understanding:
•    what drug is prescribed, what it’s for and how to properly take it rather than simply letting the doctor write a prescription
•    how to properly store a drug (room temperature, refrigerator, etc)
•    what foods or beverages should be avoided with the drug
•    what side effects to expect and what to do if they arise

Avoid mistaking similar bottles (i.e. eye drops and ear drops) by reading the label every time, and use the proper measuring device included. A current list of all medications (including over-the-counter, dietary supplements, sleeping aids, etc) should be on hand for doctors, and all medication allergies and past drug reactions should be discussed with doctors.

In addition, fill prescriptions from the same pharmacy if possible, so all records are in one place. Even if a medication has been taken in the past, if anything seems different about it a second time around, questions should be asked.

The Oak Park Arms is a rental retirement community which provides independent and assisted living apartments and a full schedule of activities and services. Furnished apartments are also available for a short-term stay – a weekend, a week, a month or longer.

The program is free and open to the public. For more information call Jill Wagner at 708-386-4040.


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