Senior sitting in chair with nurse showing document

What is a Medication Management Plan?

According to the American Public Health Administration, nearly half of older Americans take at least one medication daily. Seniors comprise at least 13 percent of the US population, but account for 34 percent of all the prescription medication used in the US.

With so much medication in use, there is an increased risk of medication misuse, overuse or adverse reactions to medications. The senior population is at an even greater risk of these complications, for a variety of reasons:

  • Because seniors take more medications than other age groups, there is an increased risk of drug interactions or dangerous side effects.
  • Increased sensitivity to medication is more common in seniors.
  • Body changes due to age, such as weight loss and decreased body fluid, can alter the way drugs interact in the body.
  • Forgetfulness or a belief that a medication isn’t working may cause older adults to stop taking a medication or to stop following the medication instructions.
  • Seniors tend to see different healthcare specialists and may receive prescriptions from many different providers. This makes it difficult to track medications, harmful doses, identify drug interactions and isolate ineffective medications.
  • Decreased kidney and liver function can affect how medications work, how they are absorbed and how they are removed from the body.
  • Conditions like diabetes, arthritis and high blood pressure are more common in older adults and may require a complex medicine regimen.
  • Common impairments of aging, such as hearing, vision and memory loss, can make it difficult to understand and remember medication instructions.

For seniors living in a senior community or rehabilitation center, like Willow Care Rehabilitation and Health Care, medication management programs are common. So, what is a medication management plan? These plans and programs help seniors avoid the potential dangers of mismanaging medication administration and give families and residents peace of mind. For seniors with medication concerns, or for families who may worry about an elderly loved one, understanding the risks of medication, the importance of medication management and how to create a medication management plan are all important.

Why is Medication Management Important?

Simply remembering to take a pill every day can be a challenge. When you add in multiple medications, varying dosages and differing medication requirements, maintaining the daily routine can be a complex undertaking. At Willow Care Rehabilitation, we create a full care plan that meets the unique needs of each person. We include medication management as a way to keep our residents safe and to reduce anxiety about medication safety and taking daily medications. This allows our residents to focus on their health and wellness without stress or fear.

For older adults living on their own, managing medications can be a source of daily stress. So, aside from relieving stress, why is medication management important? Based on data from the National Institute of Health (NIH), 50 percent of US patients do not take their prescription medications correctly. Additional reasons for the importance of medication management include NIH facts, such as:

  • Nearly 33 percent of Americans do not fill their prescriptions.
  • On average, 700,000 people per year have an adverse reaction to medications that require treatment in a hospital emergency room.
  • Patients failing to take their medications correctly add an estimated $290 billion in costs to the US healthcare system each year.

Medical experts, ranging from leaders at the NIH to medical personnel in communities like Willow Care Rehabilitation, all agree that correct medication management can improve a person’s quality of life and create a safer living situation for seniors. Medication management also helps with:

  • Reducing overall medical costs as a result of fewer hospitalizations and emergency room visits due to incorrect dosing.
  • Improving patient use and administration of medications.
  • Reducing side effects and medication duplication, as well as drug interactions.
  • Improving the percentage of patients who meet their healthcare goals.

What is a Medication Management Plan?

So, now you know why medication management is important, but what is a medication management plan, exactly? And do you need one?

With the understanding that adherence to medication instructions can make the difference in a patient’s condition and his or her safety, many seniors and caregivers want to know what practices can be put into place to support medication management efforts. If your elderly loved one is in a community like Willow Care Rehabilitation, you can ensure your loved one’s care plan includes medication management and medication management education. If you are interested in putting some medication management planning into place on your own, here are a few steps to get started:

  • Talk. Have an interactive conversation to understand what medication your loved one is taking, where the prescriptions came from and what each one does. Create a document with dosages, potential side effects, potentially dangerous interactions and the names of the physicians to contact with questions.
  • Learn. Bring your document and have a discussion with the manager of your loved one’s care plan to understand the effectiveness, the safety risks and the cost of all the medications.
  • Strategize. Talk about each medication with your loved one and learn what could make each medication difficult. Are there food or drink requirements to take the medication? Is the top of the bottle hard to open with arthritis? Identify these barriers and make strategies to overcome them.
  • Organize. Address medication organization with your loved one. Discuss barriers to taking medication, how to use pill trays and what memory aids could help manage daily dosages.

Finding a Safe and Supportive Environment

At Willow Care Rehabilitation, not only do we provide a medication management plan to keep our residents safe, we create a therapeutic, holistic way to handle overall senior wellness with services including:

  • Social services
  • Stroke recovery
  • Therapy
  • Recreational programs
  • Skilled nursing care
  • Exercise groups

Request a tour today to learn more about the safe, healthy and invigorating environment we can create to support your loved one.