Talk about drugs...with your Burnaby parent

There are plenty of programs designed to talk to teenagers and young people about the dangers of drug misuse. But what about the other end of the aging spectrum?

Medication management is complicated by issues that develop with age. Studies show that over half of seniors take a minimum of four prescription medications a day, with one in four seniors taking six or more daily. Unfortunately, medication errors are among the most serious health risks facing seniors, and a key factor that leads to long-term nursing care placements.

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Why does lack of medication management have the potential to be dangerous for seniors?

Managing a complex medication regimen can be daunting for anyone. With seniors, however, it is often a difficult subject to broach because it is very personal, something they may have independently taken care of for a very long time.

However, they may not be fully aware of some of the potential risks.

Challenges associated with improper medication management include failing to take medication in the first place or in an untimely manner, taking the medication in insufficient amounts or overdosing, staying on top of necessary prescription refills and keeping track of any changes in medications or in dosage levels – which may occur frequently for seniors.

Often, the biggest hurdle is the first one: having a conversation with a senior loved one about the importance of taking their medication.

To help start the conversation with older loved ones about their medications or to assess potential medication risks, it is important for family caregivers to watch out for signs of complacency, and keep some general considerations in mind:

  • Create a list of all the prescription medications their loved one is taking;
  • Consolidate prescriptions at one pharmacy, for ease;
  • Save all information materials that come with new prescriptions;
  • Set up an organizing system;
  • Keep medications within the container to assess whether they are being taken. For example, a full pill bottle can be an indication of a medication not being taken.

Family caregivers may also want to consider accompanying their loved ones to the doctor. This allows them to ask questions and ensure they have a clear understanding on which medications have been prescribed to their loved ones and why.

Neither giving nor receiving care is easy, especially when it comes to trying to manage a complicated medication plan. With several locations across B.C. – including one right here in Burnaby – Home Instead Senior Care exists to support both the seniors who need the assistance and the families who want the best for their loved ones.

If you are interested in additional resources for managing seniors’ medication regimens, please visit

Harpreet Singh, owner of Home Instead Senior Care serving Burnaby

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