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Posts Tagged “Senior Medication”

Is Your Senior Loved One Struggling in These 5 Areas? If So, Home Care Can Help!

senior caregiver

Find out if your senior loved one can benefit from an in-home senior caregiver from Nightingale Homecare.

As your loved one ages, there may come a time when you question if he or she may benefit from the assistance of an in-home senior caregiver.  It will be important for you to be observant to the warning signs that care may be needed, as seniors are often hesitant to raise the subject of home care. Initiating home care services, however, will not only help maximize your loved one’s independence at home, it will also help him or her to maintain safety. Keep on the alert for the following indicators that your loved one may be in need of home care services:

  • Physical Changes: A decline in physical health can increase the risk of your loved one falling or suffering other serious injury. Look for changes such as difficulty walking, maintaining balance and unsteadiness. If your loved one appears to be in a frail condition, it can be dangerous for the senior to do even the simplest tasks, so home care may be necessary.
  • Inattention to Personal Hygiene: Those individuals who neglect personal hygiene may have a strong body odor, unkempt or unclean hair, obvious inattention to oral care or soiled clothing. While often elderly individuals would like to keep clean, it may have become too difficult to complete the daily tasks to do so. Having in-home care ensures that your loved one can safely maintain a regular hygiene schedule, which improves health and wellbeing.
  • Lack of Nourishment: Your loved one may have lost the ability to regularly prepare food at mealtimes due to lack of energy or other physical conditions. Getting to the grocery store to purchase fresh, healthy foods can be a challenge. You may notice the refrigerator and cupboards may not be stocked, or there may be many items that have passed their expiration date. Not eating properly can lead to lack of nourishment and dehydration, which causes cognitive issues, depression and other health concerns. In-home assistance can provide your loved one with help grocery shopping and preparing meals as well as providing a companion to sit down with at mealtimes, which will help make eating more appealing.
  • Inability to Manage Medications: Taking the prescribed dosage of medicine is essential to maintaining health, especially for elderly individuals with chronic or ongoing medical issues. Many times, seniors are prescribed a number of different medications with different dosage schedules. Prescriptions and dosages can easily become mixed up, which can lead to missing or overdosing on medications. When this happens, severe health problems can occur. In-home care ensures that your loved one stays on his or her prescribed medication schedule.
  • Lack of Household Upkeep: When visiting with your loved one, look for things such as stacks of dirty dishes and laundry, overflowing trashcans and appliances that have been left turned on. If the living spaces are dirty and more cluttered than the person would normally allow, this is a sign some extra help may be needed to keep up with the demands of managing a home. Home care assistance will ensure that your loved one’s living spaces are regularly cleaned and clutter-free.

If you notice any signs that your elder loved one may be having a hard time completing daily activities, including those not listed above, the help of an in-home senior caregiver could be the answer. Not only will this make your loved one’s life a lot easier, it will also bring you peace of mind knowing your loved one is well taken care of.

Take the first step in improving quality of life for your senior loved one by contacting Nightingale Homecare to request a free in-home consultation or to ask any questions about our professional in-home care services for seniors. Call us any time at (602) 504-1555 to learn more and to see if our services are available in your area!

Psychotropic Medications: Are They Helping or Harming Seniors?

Scottsdale home care agencyMedications that are capable of affecting the mind, emotions and behaviors are called psychotropic medications. These include commonly used pain medications called opioids as well as medications used to treat depression, anxiety, mood disorders, sleep problems, dementia and other mental illnesses. When given to older adults, psychotropic medications are typically intended to improve quality of life and ability to function. The doctor must assure, however, that the patient is accurately diagnosed, that the dose is correct, that harmful side effects don’t occur and that the psychotropic medication doesn’t interact badly with other medications that the patient is taking.

At Nightingale Homecare, the top provider of home care in Paradise Valley, we want to help seniors and their caregivers better understand the types of psychotropic medications they may be prescribed, how they can help, and the effects they may experience.

Some examples of psychotropic medications include:

  • Depression medications (e.g. Zoloft, Paxil, Elavil, Effexor, Wellbutrin)
  • Anxiety medications (e.g. Valium, Xanax, BuSpar, Ativan, Halcion)
  • Mood stabilizer medications (Depacote, Lithium)
  • Antipsychotics (e.g. Risperdal, Haldol, Zyprexa, Seroquel)
  • Stimulants (e.g. Adderal, Ritalin)
  • Anti-dementia medications (i.e. Aricept, Namenda, Exelon, Cognex)
  • Sleep medications (e.g. Ambien, Sonata, Lunesta, Remeron, Desyrel, Pamelor,)
  • Opioid pain medications (e.g. Percocet, Vicodin, OxyContin, Morphine, Meperidine, Hydromorphone, and Fentanyl)

The use of psychotropic medications and opioids has increased steadily in older adults over the last ten years. In the United States, people over the age of 65 represent just 13 percent of the population, yet this age group takes over one-third of the drugs prescribed in this county. What is even more disturbing is that a recent study found that the number of older Americans who take three or more brain-affecting medications has doubled in the last ten years. For adults age 65-80, nine out of ten have prescriptions for psychotropic medications written by a doctor that is not a psychiatrist.

Although they can be beneficial at times, psychotropic and opioid medications can also be dangerous when taken by older adults, especially when taken long-term. The elderly are more sensitive to the effects of these medications because most drugs are eliminated from the body through the kidneys and liver, both of which may work less efficiently in later years. Another age-related change is an increase in the amount of body fat. Seniors are at high risk for “drug toxicity,” or the result of drugs accumulating in the body because the drugs are often stored in fat. Drug toxicity is very serious and can be fatal.

Even though there is a well-known connection between the use of psychotropic medications in older adults and the potential toxicity from them, health care professionals often do not recognize what is happening. More than likely, they attribute the symptoms of medication toxicity to some sort of new health condition or worsening of an existing health condition.

Side effects from psychotropic drugs are more frequent and severe in older adults, especially feelings of sleepiness or being “out of it.” Memory and movement problems are also very common and can lead to falls, fractures and other accidents.

Most older adults who take psychotropic medications also take other prescribed and over-the-counter medications. Because of this, careful evaluation is needed to make sure that unwanted, uncomfortable or dangerous side effects and interactions are not occurring. Bad medication reactions commonly include: hallucinations, confusion, dizziness, constipation, drowsiness, weakness, slurred speech, lack of balance or coordination, slow and shallow breathing, poor judgement, falls with broken bones, addiction and even death. In addition, a recent study found that use of benzodiazepine (or anti-anxiety medication) results in a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Hospitalization due to bad drug reactions occurs about four times more frequently in older patients than in younger ones – and, these bad reactions could have been prevented in almost 90% of cases!

Due to the risks involved, psychotropic medications should only be prescribed by a senior’s doctor after very careful consideration, and only after trying medications or treatments that pose a lower health risk.

When considering treatment foranxiety, depression, psychological distress, sleep disorders and chronic pain,non-pharmaceutical strategies are often considered preferable to drug options in the elderly. These include:

  • Exercise
  • Meditation
  • Physical therapy
  • Acupuncture
  • Thai chi
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Yoga
  • Biofeedback
  • Chiropractic therapy
  • Guided imagery
  • Progressive muscle relaxation
  • Hot and cold treatments
  • Deep breathing
  • Relaxation training

When it comes to pain management, there is a perception that opiate pain medications are the best treatment, but studies have determined that there is no advantage to using opioid pain medications for the treatment of chronic pain in older adults when the pain is not caused by cancer. For non-cancer pain, opioids are recommended for a maximumof 3-7 days, and some over-the counter pain medications may actually be more effective.
Nightingale Homecare is committed to keeping seniors safe and well through trusted in-home care services, skilled nursing care, and more. Contact us today at (602) 504-1555 for further information on psychotropic medications or for set up a consultation for home care in Paradise Valley and the surrounding area.

Overcoming Senior Medication Management Missteps

Senior Medication Prescription medications are meant to help heal us, relieve pain or other problematic symptoms, or manage chronic conditions, but did you know they also account for well over 100,000 deaths and 10% of all hospitalizations each year in older adults? That is, when they’re taken incorrectly – which startlingly, occurs as frequently as 50% of the time. With statistics such as these, what exactly are the reasons seniors are reluctant to take medications as prescribed – and how can we, as caregivers help? The Phoenix home care experts at Nightingale Homecare have answers to both of these questions!

Top Reasons for Senior Medication Mismanagement:

  • Cost. While Medicare and supplemental insurance plans help with medication costs, there are a number of exclusions, and some older adults are either unwilling or unable to cover costs out-of-pocket. And with the typical senior taking anywhere from 14 – 18 different medications, it’s easy to see how cost quickly adds up! Seniors may try to ration medications by less than what’s been prescribed, to avoid having to pay for refills as frequently. And at times, a senior may feel as though the medication isn’t that helpful anyway, and decides to simply forego the doctor’s orders.
    • How you can help: Remind the senior of the importance of taking medications exactly as prescribed. Talk with his or her medical team to make sure they’re aware of the situation, and to see if a lower cost generic version of the medication is an option. You can also look into the Social Security program, “Extra Help with Medicare Prescription Drug Costs” to see if your loved one qualifies for additional assistance.
  • Feeling healthy. This is an all-too-common scenario: a senior is prescribed a medication that’s so effective, he or she feels better, and therefore assumes it’s ok to stop taking it. However, since many medications are preventative in nature, and are used to keep a condition from worsening, it’s imperative that they be taken to avoid serious complications.
    • How you can help: Again, speak with the senior’s physician so he or she is aware that medications are not being taken as prescribed. Request that the doctor talk with the older adult and share the potential risks of discontinuing meds, as this may carry more weight with the senior than hearing it from you or other well-meaning family members.
  • Medication avoidance. Sometimes, older adults simply have an aversion to taking any kind of medication. They may prefer a more natural approach to health care, such as changing their diet or taking over-the-counter herbal supplements. Taking prescriptions may also provide a daily, unwanted reminder of their health issues.
    • How you can help: A healthy diet should certainly be encouraged, but in tandem with doctors’ recommendations; and supplements should never be taken without first consulting a physician. Having a Nightingale Homecare nurse talk with the senior can be a great first step to overcoming barriers and in helping him or her to understand the risks vs. benefits of taking prescribed medications.

If your senior loved one struggles with medications for any reason, give us a call at (602) 504-1555 to speak with a member of our Phoenix home care team. We can help transport and accompany seniors to doctor visits to help bring resolution, pick up prescriptions, and provide medication management services to help older adults stay healthy and well. Contact us to learn more!