5 Warning Signs an Older Adult Is Misusing Medications
Many prescriptions are written every year, and a large percentage of those drugs end up in the hands of seniors. While most older adults are responsible with their prescriptions, it doesn’t take much to misuse or abuse certain medications. Within a short time, misuse of medications could result in acute and long-term health issues, which is why you need to keep an eye out for any signs that your senior loved one might be overusing or abusing his or her prescriptions.
1. Sudden Personality Changes
Depending on the drugs your loved one is taking, you may notice some changes in his or her personality. Seniors who used to be happy and cheerful may suddenly become reclusive or aggressive. Personality changes could be caused by a wide variety of issues, and you should contact your loved one’s doctor to discuss your options. The doctor might suggest brain scans or tests to see if the symptoms are being caused by medications or a cognitive health condition.
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2. Quickly Running Out of Medicine
Overusing prescription medication isn’t always intentional, but it can be very dangerous if it isn’t addressed. As you spend more time with your loved one, you should have a good idea of how long his or her prescriptions last. If your loved one is overusing drugs, he or she might start to ask for refills one or two weeks early. One of the best ways to prevent unintentional overuse is to put medications in a pillbox at the start of the week so your loved one knows exactly what he or she should be taking each day.
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3. Irritability When Running Out of Medications
Over the course of a few months, seniors can become physically or mentally dependent on some of the drugs they are taking. Eventually, they may need to increase their dose or take extra doses to feel the same effects. When they come off their medications, they might go into a state of shock that affects their temperament. You must immediately seek out professional medical assistance if you believe your loved one is addicted to any of the medications he or she is taking.
4. Disinterest in Old Hobbies
It can be difficult for caregivers to determine which changes are a natural part of the aging process. As a general rule, you need to be wary of any sudden changes in your loved one’s habits or interests. Losing interest in old hobbies and activities is especially common among older adults who take painkillers or psychoactive drugs. Speak with the doctor or a pharmacist about altering your loved one’s daily dose or switching to an alternative product if you think medication is causing disinterest.
5. Combining Drugs with Alcohol
Whenever your loved one is prescribed a new drug, you should read all of the warnings before he or she consumes any alcohol. Combining certain prescriptions with alcohol is extremely dangerous, and it could be a sign that your loved one has developed an addiction. Keeping alcohol out of the home is one option, but you might need to speak with an addiction specialist if this doesn’t solve the problem. You should also sit down with your loved one and explain the potential side effects if he or she continues to misuse prescriptions.
If your loved one needs assistance with medication management, consider hiring a professional caregiver. Some seniors need occasional assistance at home, and oftentimes the family members who take care of them need time away to run errands, take a nap, go to work, or take a vacation. Dayton respite care experts from Home Care Assistance are available on an as-needed basis, giving your family peace of mind that your loved one will remain safe and comfortable while you relax or focus on other important responsibilities. To create a customized in-home care plan for your elderly loved one, give Home Care Assistance a call at [hca_phone] today.