Medication and elderly people

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Medication has a different effect on elderly people, who often need lower doses than younger people, as the drugs remain in their organism for longer. Smaller people or people who weigh less also need lower doses.

As the carer of the dependent, you have no doubt accompanied your relative on medical visits, such as during hospital stays or when discharged, and you will have been told what medication the person should take, including the times and methods for taking these drugs.

As a carer, it can be useful for you to ensure that the person you are caring for takes the right medication at the right time. It is important for you to know what each drug is for and to observe whether or not it produces the desired effect.

General recommendations to ensure pharmacological treatments are safe and effective

  • You should know the name of the medication, what it is for, how it is applied, the dose and the number of times a day it is to be taken. You should also know how long the treatment will last, and if any special precautions should be taken while it is ongoing
  • The medication should be kept in its container and with its leaflet in a safe place
  • The expiry date is highly important. This is particularly true with powdered medication: note down the date on which the package was opened and how long it can be used for, following the pharmacist’s instructions
  • Follow the instructions on when to administer the medication. Taking medication can be linked to meal times
  • When there is more than one drug, it is recommended to draw up a plan/schedule/table to remember when to administer medication
  • The pharmacist or team attending to you can provide systems for organising and planning how and when medication should be taken, avoiding confusion and helping ensure the treatment is followed properly
  • If a dose is forgotten, it is important to know what to do, which is why it is always important to ask the medical team when beginning a treatment

General recomendations for medicine management 

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