Plenty of programs stress the importance of talking to teenagers about the dangers of drug misuse, but who is talking to seniors? According to a new survey of seniors*, nearly one-fifth of those taking five or more prescription medications have experienced challenges in managing their medications, including keeping track of which medications they have taken and when.

This type of unintentional medication misuse can often lead to devastating consequences. To help families have this critical conversation with their senior loved ones, the local Home Instead Senior Care® office, an in-home senior care provider in the Columbia area, has launched a new public education program called Let’s Talk about RxSM, offering families free resources and tips, as well as insight into potential medication pitfalls facing seniors. The free solutions guide helps families better understand the potential risks associated with this growing problem and provides tools that can help older adults safely manage their medications.

Studies show that medication errors are among the most serious health risks facing seniors, and a key factor leading to long-term care placements, such as in a nursing home. However, for many, medication management is a difficult subject to broach as it is a very personal topic. Often times, seniors have been managing this aspect of their life on their own for many years and may not be fully aware of potential pitfalls.

“We’re encouraging the greater Columbia area to have these conversations with their families because we’ve seen that seniors’ ability to remain independent in their homes is greatly dependent on their ability to manage their medications,” said Rene Kilburn, franchise owner of the Home Instead Senior Care office in Columbia. “If families see any signs that their senior loved one may be having difficulties – such as unintended weight loss or full medicine bottles – we encourage them to help their senior loved one, serving as a second set of eyes and ears, or ask for help.”

Family caregivers can accompany their senior to the doctor, use pill boxes and medication trackers or look into pharmacies like Simple MedsSM that package medications and vitamins in single-dose packs. Having the right medication management plan can help seniors stay independent in their homes and avoid adverse drug reactions.

“Discussing medication regimens with a loved one increases their self-confidence to correctly take their prescriptions, over-the-counter medications and vitamins,” said Dr. Jane Potter, geriatrician and director of the Home Instead Center for Successful Aging at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. “This is increasingly important both as an individual ages and the number of medications they take increases. Taking more medications puts seniors at higher risk for a medical emergency from incorrect dosing or adverse medication interactions.”

To obtain the solutions guide, or to view other program resources and tips, visit www.LetsTalkAboutRx.com. Or, contact your local Home Instead Senior Care office today to learn how family caregivers can help seniors avoid medication mishaps, including by having a Home Instead® CAREGiverSM provide medication reminders. Find an office near you by visiting www.homeinstead.com/state/.