In 2015, it was reported that 25 percent of people aged 65 to 69 and 46 percent of people aged 70 to 79 took at least five medications per day.
For home care agencies primarily working with aging adult populations 70 years and older, managing and monitoring this quantity of medication is one of the most important responsibilities. It keeps quality of life high and prevents unintended events or hospital readmissions, 26 percent of which were found to be medication-related among high-risk patients in a Journal of the American Pharmacists Association study published in 2017.
At Open Arms Solutions, we organize our medication management and monitoring into a multi-layer system to optimize and ensure safety at all times. In our process, nurses manage medication with pharmacists and physicians while caregivers monitor daily intake.
In the state of Illinois, caregivers at home care agencies regulated by the IDPH, are not licensed to handle or give aging adults their medications. It is their role to provide reminders of when medication needs to be taken, track that medication is being taken correctly and on time, and take mom or dad to visit physicians or pick up medications when needed.
Nurses manage medication by conducting regular check-ins with aging adults and pharmacies and 90-day check-ins with physicians. “Every week, nurses visit the home, check medication lists, and organize medications into weekly pill dispensers which caregivers then use to give aging adults daily reminders. If there is a change or discrepancy in medication, caregivers or family members alert nurses who then follow up with pharmacists and primary care physicians,” said Open Arms Director of Senior Living, Arlene Schiff, RN.
Training nurses and caregivers to keep these checks and balances in place is critical to maintaining safety among aging adults who are susceptible to forgetting to take medications or to taking them incorrectly. A process like this reduces risk and provides comfort to aging adults and their family members.
One of Open Arms’ Nurse Managers, Rachel Marks, RN, says peace of mind from family members is one of the most important outcomes of medication management and monitoring. For family members who are not able to care for mom or dad, having nurses and caregivers oversee medication intake provides immense relief.