Medication Management

As many caregivers know, the challenge of medication management for a loved one’s many prescriptions can be a daunting task. With patients having multiple illnesses, prescriptions, and dosages, it’s a major responsibility that can be stressful and incredibly time consuming.

medication management

According to a survey conducted by John Hopkins University people 65 and over make up 13% of the population but consume more than 30 percent of all medications prescribed. On average seniors take between 2 to 7 prescription medications daily.

With so much depending on the accurate administration of medications it is important for caregivers to have as much knowledge as possible about the medicine a loved one is prescribed and be health advocates for them when they visit the doctor or pharmacist.

Below Estee Bienstock RN, Executive Director of ALLPOINT Home Health, provides key items for caregivers to be aware of as they assist with or manage the medication of their loved one.

Key things to know about the medication a love one is taking

  • Brand and generic name
  • Purpose and appearance
  • Dosage and what to do if a dose is missed
  • How and when to take the medication (i.e. with water, food, on an empty stomach, etc.)
  • Side effects and what to do
  • Drug interactions with food, alcohol, other medications and over-the-counter products (including herbal products.)
  • Storage (e.g., in the refrigerator, original container only, away from sunlight, etc.)

While caring for your loved one at home

  • Read the entire prescription label.
  • Recheck the label before administrating each dose.
  • Give the medication exactly as prescribed.
  • If your loved one develops difficulty breathing, call 911 immediately.
  • Throw away expired medications.
  • Ask the pharmacist to recommend a reference book or website on medications.

While you’re at the doctor’s office or pharmacy

  • Learn as much as possible about your loved one’s illness/disease.
  • Ask the doctor as many questions as you need to understand their medication.
  • Make sure that all your loved one’s doctors are aware of all the medications you are taking.
  • Fill all the prescriptions at the same pharmacy.
  • Inform the doctor or pharmacist about any problems your loved one is having with their medication, foods, herbal products, or dietary supplements.

When your loved one is a patient at a hospital 

  • Bring an updated written list of the medications the patient is taking and those they cannot tolerate.
  • Ask what each new medication is for.
  • If a medication in not administered on time; ask for the nurse.
  • Ask the nurse or pharmacist if something looks different.
  • Do not take medications brought from home (including herbal products and dietary supplements.)

More information on medication management:

Medication Management for the Elderly

Managing Your Medicines

 

Tips on Avoiding Dehydration

The Heat is On! Tips on Staying Healthy and Avoiding Dehydration

By Estee Bienstock, RN, executive director, allpoint home health

 

Dehydration is a common condition that afflicts many people over 65, children and people whose health is compromised. The symptoms are often masked by age or illness, and can be easily missed. Even a common cold or flu can increase the risk of dehydration. As the weather begins to heat up it’s vital that everyone, including healthy individuals, be aware of the dangers and take precautions.

Up to 75% of our body weight is water. Dehydration occurs, when the body loses more water than it takes in. Loss of water can be due to illness, reduced kidney functions, heat exhaustion, inability to move around easily and /or medications. Many of the medications commonly taken by older individuals to control heart disease, hypertension, kidney disease and liver disease are common diuretics and can frequently be overlooked as causes of dehydration. Drinking enough water is vital to maintaining your health.

It’s important to note that for some elderly and those who are sick, moving around is often difficult. Many people avoid drinking the fluids they need so they can avoid having to go to the bathroom.

Common Causes of Dehydration

  • Weather
  • Colds and flu
  • Diarrhea and vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Overexertion
  • Diabetes and other compromising illnesses

Warm Weather Tips to Prevent Dehydration

  • Stay indoors
  • Drink water throughout the day
  • If no air conditioning in your home, go to a mall or environment that can stay cool throughout the day
  • Start and end your day with water
  • Drink to replace the water you lose, by breathing, sweating and urinating

Symptoms of Mild to Moderate Dehydration 

  • Dry mouth
  • Tiredness
  • Thirst
  • Decreased urine output
  • Less tearing
  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Lightheadedness
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Abdominal pain and muscle cramping

Symptoms of Severe Dehydration – A MEDICAL EMERGENCY

  • Extreme thirst
  • Severe confusion
  • Severe dry mouth and mucous membranes
  • Little or no sweating
  • Shriveled skin, no elasticity (when pinched, skin does not bounce back)
  • Low blood pressure
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Rapid breathing
  • No tears at all
  • Loss of consciousness

Mild to moderate dehydration can usually be treated, especially in a healthy adult by drinking more fluids. This does not include carbonated and caffeinated fluids; these tend to dehydrate rather than hydrate. Water is the number one fluid to drink to avoid or treat dehydration. It’s recommended to drink six to eight, eight ounce glasses per day to stay healthy and hydrated. If you have a medical condition that may cause you to limit your fluid intake, discuss this with your physician.

So enjoy a cool glass of water now and have a great summer!

SIBLING RIVALRY AND CAREGIVING – SURVIVING THE JOURNEY

No matter what the dynamics are, calling a truce among siblings when parental caregiving issues come up will benefit the entire family.

caring for elderly parents

  • 43.5 million people take care of a parent or relative.
  • 51% of those taking care of an older relative are doing this alone.
  • 85% of them have siblings.

We are not really prepared for the task of caregiving. We are living longer, but when health and cognitive issues start to decline in our loved ones, the need for family intervention becomes clear. Family dynamics are complicated, and at this time, the rivalries can erupt. The dynamics that existed as you were growing up, such as how you felt about each other, how your parents interacted with each of you and the expectations that they had of each of you, persist at that time of need.

No matter what the dynamics are, calling a truce among siblings would be beneficial for everyone. You don’t have to become best friends, but the care for a loved one has to come first. Taking a step back and considering this is vital at this time of all of your lives. Focus only on issues concerning your parents. If that is not possible, bring in a professional. A geriatric Care Manager, a family therapist, or clergy could help all of you communicate objectively and realistically. When siblings coordinate efforts to care for parents, the parents receive better care overall.

Watching a parent age and finally die is one of the hardest events in our lives. Recognize that caregiving is hard work and can be frustrating. Conflicts on issues of care, safety, transportation and living situations come up. It is important that families discuss these issues when the need is not at a crisis level. Mutual respect is extremely important. Accept that each person responds to these situations differently. Allow one another time to vent frustrations. Show compassion and it will come back to you.

As a primary caregiver, having ongoing conversations with your siblings about your parents’ needs, can bring an understanding on the decisions that are being made. Often times, there is so much resentment between brothers and sisters that no one communicates. Discussing what each sibling can bring to the table can alleviate old family roles. Don’t assume that whoever has always had the “responsible” role is the person that will have to make the sacrifice of doing everything. Discuss amongst yourselves what each one of you can do. In caring for a loved one, there are so many roles that need to be taken on. Find each other’s strengths and weaknesses and see how this benefits the overall care your parents receive. One person can be the coordinator of care, one can take on the responsibility for paying bills and administrative tasks, one may do the grocery shopping and physician appointments.  By having a list of all the tasks that now have to be taken on, each sibling can do what they do best.

Be good to yourself and be kind to each other.

In-Home Caregivers

In-home caregivers may be the ideal solution for older family members and the adult children watching out for them.

by Estee Bienstock, RN

Twenty-five percent of the population in the United States is currently dealing with care giving issues, with 80-85 percent providing the care themselves. These are people who are in their late 70s and 80s taking care of someone in their household, as well as adult children trying to maintain their own households while helping parents and family members live at home as long as possible. The adult children caring for parents have been called “The Sandwich Generation,” because they are sandwiched between aging family members on one side and young children on the other.

Often family caregivers put themselves at risk by ignoring or denying their own health issues as they take care of aging loved ones. Physical signs of stress for caregivers include disturbed sleep, body aches due to tension, headaches, digestive problems, high blood pressure, irregular heart beat, chest pains, weight fluctuation (gain or loss), fatigue, sexual dysfunction, and more. Emotional signs of stress include anxiety, depression, mood swings, frustration and irritability, memory problems, lack of concentration, increased substance abuse, feeling out of control, and a feeling of isolation.

YOU’RE NOT ALONE

Getting help is vital during this time. Caregiving does not have to be all or nothing. Having respite so one can go to work, go to the market, go out with a friend or even take a nap is important. Starting out with a few hours of help per week may be the answer.

When interviewing for an in-home caregiver, contact at least three care giving agencies or private care givers. Ask each the same questions so you can compare answers. Be aware that the first person who comes into your home may not work out. Do not get discouraged. It sometimes takes a few tries to find the right fit. Make a list of the needs of your loved one—meal preparation, personal hygiene, personal safety, medication reminders, transportation, etc. Create a job description. Put together a routine that will make your family member as comfortable with the caregiver as possible. Spend time with the caregiver, orienting him or her to the home and surroundings. Tell them the likes and dislikes of their new client.Work with the caregiver to plan activities that alow your loved one to keep active throughout the day.

PROFESSIONAL HELP

By using a home care agency you alleviate many pitfalls. An agency can substitute with another caregiver should your caregiver have an emergency. Please note, when you hire a caregiver, it is considered custodial care. This type of care is not paid by Medicare. Long Term Care Insurance often helps pay for these services. Check the policy carefully before hiring anyone. Some policies mandate a Licensed Home Health Agency before they pay for the care. Some policies have a waiting period. These are questions that can be answered by your agent.

We are all looking for “quality of life.” Taking care of yourself and finding good care for your loved ones makes the aging process better for all.

Estee Bienstock, RN, is executive director for ALLPOINT Home Health

Estee Bienstock, Executive Director, ALLPOINT Home Health

estee@allpointhomehealth.com.

Women’s Wellness Day

Make it a HEALTHY New Year – Register for the Hadassah Women’s Wellness Day!

Register Today for Hadassah Southern California’s Women’s Wellness Day! ALLPOINT Home Health Director, Estee Bienstock, will be addressing caring options for loved ones. Join her and other keynote speakers who will be sharing many ideas on how to bring wellness and piece of mind into your life. Take a day for yourself!

Event date: Sunday, February 9, 2014

Time: 9:00am – 4:30pm

Location: UCLA Covel Commons – Grand Horizon Ballroom – 330 De Neve Dr. Third Floor – Los Angeles, Ca  90095

1)Register Online

Hadassah Women's Wellness Day 2014