Medication management

Seniors’ key to independence involves help managing their pills

Published on March 8, 2016

Heather Blouin, with Home Instead Senior Care, meets with 100-year-old client Mary Campbell to discuss managing medications.

©Madison Blanchard/The Guardian

SUMMERSIDE- With the population of the Island continuing to get older and more and more people electing to stay in their homes longer, there is a growing need to understand all the pitfalls those seniors face.

Home Instead Senior Care is trying to bring awareness to one of the issues that seniors struggle with through a new public campaign, Let’s Talk About Rx.

They have been talking to their senior clients and their families about this during care consultations.

Home Instead is also offering community level training for any interested groups across the province.

Medication management is an issue people often don’t think about when it comes to seniors, said Heather Blouin, who is with Home Instead Senior Care.

“This isn’t something at the forefront of the news. You think about warning teenagers about drugs, not about seniors.”

Sixty per cent of seniors take five or more pills a day and and that can be challenging on a number of levels, Blouin said.

Even remembering when to take the pills presents challenges.

Oftentimes seniors don’t want admit when they are having difficulty remembering what pills to take and when, fearing the outcome if they admit it to their family members, Blouin said.

“My mom said to me, ‘I think I may have dropped a pill under the bed.’ The only reason she cared was because of one of my kids picking it up. She wasn’t at all concerned about the effect on her health.”

The key is making sure the individual knows they are being heard, Blouin said.

“When someone starts to question or probe at sensitive subjects, it’s almost like they want to be like, ‘Well I’ve been taking my medication and I know what I’m doing’.”

Family members should educate themselves on their loved one’s drug plan and try to communicate in a way that lets the senior know it’s about looking out for their safety, Blouin said.

Mary Campbell, 100, of Summerside understands the importance of family members checking in, even if she finds it annoying sometimes.

“I have a son and he checks on me and I wish he’d get lost sometimes,” she said. “But you know it’s good.”

She said it’s important to keep in mind family members’ intentions.

“I just put it down to caring, you know, that it’s for your benefit.”

There is more information about the Let’s Talk About Rx campaign on the Home Instead Senior Care website, including tips to avoid medication mistakes, tips on how family caregivers can help seniors and 10 signs to watch for medication causing medical issues.