Preventing Medication Mix-Ups

Elder Care in Garden City NY

Medications can help us feel better when we’re sick, and can not only enhance, but save a person’s life, when used correctly. But they can be dangerous if not.Elder-Care-in-Garden-City-NY

The New England Health Care Institute says, on average, half of all patients take their medications incorrectly; that number increases with age and the number of prescriptions a person takes. It’s easy to understand why. As people age, eyesight and hearing often decline, making it harder to read prescription labels, or more difficult to hear what a doctor says about their prescriptions. Those mistakes can be fatal. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control says at least 125,000 deaths each year are caused by patient medication errors.

But there are things that can help keep the family member you’re providing elder care for safe:

  • Encourage them to be a savvy consumer. They should ask questions as to why they’re taking a medication and what its side effects might be. Ask how to know if the medication is working and what to do if a potential adverse reaction happens.
  • Find out how new medications will interact with ones already being taken. If seeing multiple providers, make sure they each know all the medications the person is on so everyone is operating with current and correct information. Be sure to also let them know about any OTC medications being taken, including vitamins. The more doctors a person has and the more things they take, the greater the risk for errors or negative drug interactions.
  • Use the same pharmacy if possible. The pharmacist can help keep a person safe, especially if they have a complete list of everything being taken. Pharmacists can be a great line of defense in case a potential drug interaction slips past a physician. And many now use databases that will automatically flag a potential drug interaction threat.
  • If considering ordering medications online, make sure the company is a familiar one. If not, be aware that distribution of counterfeit drugs is high these days. If getting drugs by mail, bring them in from extreme heat or cold right away so they maintain their effectiveness.
  • If a medical provider prescribes a medication that the person can’t afford, they should let them know that as opposed to splitting pills in half or not filling it until their next Social Security check comes, etc. If not being taken as prescribed, the healing process can be slowed or symptoms can become worse, possibly prompting the doctor to increase dosage or change to another drug altogether. That could potentially cause even more problems. Communicate openly and honestly with medical providers.
  • If there is a sudden problem with breathing, or a serious reaction develops like hives, swelling, wheezing or a rash, stop taking the medication and call the doctor immediately.
  • Keep medications in their original bottles with labeling intact and store them safely away from children and pets.


If you or an aging loved one are considering elder care in Garden City, NY, please contact the caring staff at Family First Home Companions. Serving all of Long Island. Call today: (631) 319-3961



Jennifer Benjamin
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