Are you worried about elderly care for your aging relative and managing all the medications they take daily?
It can be confusing for even the most focused person to manage several prescriptions perfectly. Thousands of seniors are admitted to emergency rooms each year for accidental poisoning due to problems and mix-ups with their medications. Accidental poisoning can cause tremendous health problems and in extreme cases, it can result in a coma or even be fatal.
Your elderly care responsibilities should incorporate poison prevention as well as a plan for what to do if you suspect your aging loved one has accidentally poisoned themselves with their medication.
Common Factors in Accidental Poisoning in Elderly Adults
The majority of poisonings in older people are unintentional and largely result in mix-ups with medication. Mistaken identity is a common problem when an elderly person confuses one type of pill for another. This often happens when pills are removed from their labeled bottles. Another common factor is misremembering when they’ve taken a dose, and double up, resulting in unhealthy levels of drugs in the system. Still, other seniors may struggle with undiagnosed dementia or confusion caused by an underlying health issue, which causes them to forget how much and what medicines to take.
Another common factor in accidental poisoning in elderly adults include taking another person’s prescription medication. Seniors should never take medicine that hasn’t been specifically prescribed to them. They may become accidentally poisoned if they have bad reactions from mixing prescription medication with over-the-counter drugs like cold medicine, pain relievers or antacids. Too many seniors also get into trouble when they take medicine that has expired.
Ways to Prevent Accidental Poisoning in Elderly Adults
Because the most common factors in accidental poisoning come from medical management, elderly adults need help to make sure they know exactly what to take and when. Family caregivers can play a big part in assisting loved ones with this tricky task.
Keeping track of medicines and doses is easier when things are written down. Using a chart or even a phone app, family members can write down the medicine, dosage, when it is to be taken and other details, such as taking it with food. As the elderly person does so, they can record that. Everyone will know what’s happening and there will be a lot less room for error.
Family members can also help seniors by clearly labeling prescription medicine. If the print is too small, they can use enlarged printing on adhesive labels to help. Hiring a home care aide can also help seniors with medication management as the aide can remind seniors when and what to take and help log the activity. A written list of over-the-counter medicines that are allowed and forbidden can be posted in an easy-to-see location for everyone to refer to. If family members suspect their elderly loved one has mismanaged their medicine and may be suffering from accidental poison, they should call their state’s poison control hotline for help.
It’s not too late to include poison prevention into your well-planned elderly care responsibilities. Reducing the risk is the first step, and having a plan and following it can mean a greatly reduced risk for accidental poisoning in your aging loved one.
If you or a senior family member are considering hiring Senior Care in Totowa, NJ, please contact the caring staff at Caring Solutions Home Care LLC. In-home senior care servicing Bergen & Passaic Counties. Call today (973) 427-3553.
I started my career as an ICU nurse over 30 years ago. I have functioned as an educator and preceptor mentoring new nurses in the clinical arena. I have sat on many Patient Care committees authoring a variety of patient care protocols.
In 2007, I saw an opportunity to improve the delivery of patient care services in the home and founded Caring Solutions Home Care. Over the last 10 years I have functioned as the Director of Nursing overseeing all client care, administrative and personnel operations.