Accidental poisoning is much more common than it should be, thanks to the increasing number of prescription drugs that seniors must take. While these medications keep disease and chronic illness under control, it’s not unusual for aging adults to have multiple pills they must take throughout the day. It doesn’t take much for seniors to mix up the medications and create an accidental poisoning. If family caregivers want to avoid taking their aging loved one to the ER, they should pay attention to the information available during Poison Prevention Awareness Month.
What is Accidental Poisoning in Seniors?
When seniors ingest substances that are not appropriate for their bodies and they don’t realize it, they are setting themselves up for accidental poisoning. Because aging adults are often subject to complex medical regimens, it is very easy for them to mix up doses, skip doses or double up on doses. The result is high levels of drugs in their system or interactions with other drugs that can cause harm to the body.
Many seniors who rely on family caregivers to help them with daily tasks around the home also need help with daily living tasks, from laundry and meals to paying the bills and picking up prescriptions. Family caregivers cannot assume that aging adults can handle managing their medications, too. To avoid accidental poisoning in aging adults, family caregivers need to implement a supervisory plan so that mistakes will be avoided.
Helping Seniors With Medication Management
Family caregivers can really benefit from the excellent resources available during Poison Prevention Awareness Month and how they and their aging loved one can reduce the risk of accidental poisoning. The first step is to get organized. Family caregivers should go through all the medications and write down doses and names, plus any other instructions such as whether the aging adult should take the pill with food. Then, family caregivers should throw away all the expired medication. Finally, they can create a chart that reflects the proper medication schedule.
Many seniors benefit from an in-home elder care provider, to help them with all kinds of daily tasks that they may struggle to do themselves. From laundry and dirty dishes to meal preparation and assisting with dressing and grooming, elder care providers are an invaluable part of a disabled senior’s life. It stands to reason that they would be an excellent monitor of medication, without actually dispensing it. Elder care providers can help read bottle labels, remind the senior when their medication is due, keep a medicine log up to date, and put bottles away out of sight after the aging adult is done. Having someone around them can eliminate many of the mistakes that seniors make that lead to accidental poisoning.
The overwhelming message of National Poison Prevention Awareness Month is that accidental poisoning is something that can be prevented with planning and focus. Family caregivers need to help their aging relatives with most of their daily tasks, so it makes sense to include medication management as one of their responsibilities.