Every day, about two and a half million medicines are prescribed in the community and in hospitals across the UK. Most medicines are used safely and help people to get better or stay well. But sometimes errors occur and these can lead to harm.
As we get older it becomes more likely that we will need to take some form of medication in order to remain healthy for a long as possible. However it needs to be taken into consideration that some medications can have side effects, and if medications aren’t monitored and taken as recommended they can have potentially dangerous consequences.
What Are The Risks?
There are a number of risks that an individual could face when taking medication on a regular basis, but the main risks to an individual’s health as a result of medication are: overdose, mixing drugs, and allergic reactions.
As a result of taking multiple medications with a variety of doses it may be difficult for an elderly individual to keep track of all of the medications they are taking and the correct dosage. This can increase the chances of an elderly individual suffering from an accidental overdose. However this can also be the result if an individual is taking multiple medications as some can react with one another causing the individual to overdose, although cases of this occurring are fairly low, particularly when individuals only use one pharmacy, as the pharmacist would generally be able to pick up on this.
Another reason that overdose is a high risk factor in the elderly is Dementia. This is because individuals may be unaware of the dangers of double dosing. This occurs with some Dementia sufferers as they may begin to store medications and take them at a later time without anyone noticing, or they may simply be confused and forget when they last took their medication causing them to take two doses close together.
A number of elderly individuals rely on a number of different medications in order to maintain good health, however in recent studies it has been found that regularly mixing a variety of drugs could be linked to earlier death and brain decline.
As a result mixing drugs could have a detrimental impact on an individual’s overall health and well-being, for example it may increase the chances of an individual developing conditions such as Dementia. This was found in a study where drugs were rated on how well they block neurotransmitters in the brain and relevant scores were give (1 for mild effect – 3 for severe). The scores for the medications an individual was taking were combined. it was found that 20% of those with a combined score of 4 or more died in comparison to the 7% that died who weren’t taking drugs that effected neurotransmitters in the brain. The study also found a 4% drop in the ratings of brain function.
As a result of taking a variety of medication on a regular basis, it may increase the likelihood of an individual suffering from an allergic reaction. A study has found that there is an increased risk of an adverse drug reaction as an individual age increases..
What Can Be done To Help?
There are a number of ways to help to prevent adverse drug reactions. For example the introduction of a dosette box may help an individual to keep track of the medications that they are taking. Blister packs can also be used to help to ensure that the correct dosages are being taken. Another way in which the risks can be reduced is through regular monitoring of the individual to ensure that they are healthy, as this can make it easier to detect an possible adverse reactions, and this can be done through the implementation of Telecare, a Home Care package or regular visits to a doctor.
Implementing a Home Care package could be extremely beneficial, and this is because a care worker may be able to provide prompting and medication management duties for an individual. This will help to ensure that the individual is taking the correct dosage of medications, as well as taking them when they should be. This in turn will reduce the risk of an individual taking a double dosage, and becoming ill as a result of poor medication management. A care worker may also be able to observe any changes within the individuals overall health and behaviour, as this may be an indicator that the individual is suffering adverse reactions to a medication that they are taking. A doctor can then be notified and the individuals medication may be reviewed.
Mike runs a Care Agency called Everycare. Everycare serve people in Winchester, Twyford, Colden Common, Alresford and surrounding areas with a first class Home Care service. Everycare will supply care workers to look after your social needs and to help you to live a more fulfilled life.