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Elderly Medication Errors – 11 Tips to Avoid Problems

NJ Elder Health

Avoiding Medication Errors

Many seniors take multiple medications, which increases the likelihood of medication errors.  Here are some excellent tips for seniors to reduce the likelihood of making a mistake with their medications:

  1. Check the label when you get a prescription to verify that you are receiving the proper medication. Read back the prescription to your pharmacist and doctor.
  2. Keep all medication in original containers.
  3. Remember to contact your health care provider or pharmacist if you have any doubts about missing a dosage.
  4. Fill all prescriptions at the same pharmacy.
  5. Read the patient information sheet that accompanies your medication.
  6. Notify your pharmacist immediately if there is a change in the color, size, shape or smell of your medication.
  7. Do not share or take another person’s medication.
  8. When in doubt about a medication you are taking, always consult your pharmacist and doctor.  Ask about any side effects that you might experience or expect.
  9. When in the hospital:

– State your name before taking any medications and always offer your wrist bracelet for identification. Ask the nurse to identify each medication by name before you take it.

– Ask your nurse why your medication has not been given at its regular time during your hospital stay.

– Remind your doctor if you have any allergies to certain medications and food or if you also have a health condition that could affect the use of certain medications.

  1. Tell your pharmacist and doctor if you are taking any dietary supplements or over-the-counter medications.
  2. Create a list of all the medications you are taking and share with your family members. The list should include the following information:

– Your full name and date of birth

– Drug name (the drugs being taken, both generic and brand)

– Strength (dosage)

– Directions for using the medication, including how many times a day and when the medication should be taken

– What liquids or foods are being used to take or should be used to take with medications, for example, water, juice, apple sauce etc.

– Allergies to certain medicines and foods

– Pharmacy and health care providers names, addresses, telephone numbers

– Family emergency contact information

Posted by: Frank Esposito, Vice President of Expert Home Care.  New Jersey’s Expert Home Care provides professional and reliable home health care and companion care for NJ elderly, helping them with their daily living activities since 1984. Please call us toll free at 800-848-2336 when you have home care related questions or need assistance for a loved one. Get a Free Home Care Assessment (a $375 value!) when you mention this post.

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