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Avoiding Medication Errors

It’s not uncommon for older adults to make mistakes when they are taking medications. In addition, medical professionals sometimes make errors as well. Errors in medication can mean treatment is less effective or can even result in a dangerous drug interaction. Learning to avoid medication errors is an important part of being a family caregiver to an older adult.

Below are some ways you can help your aging relative to avoid medication errors.

Elder Care Santa Rosa CA - Avoiding Medication Errors

Elder Care Santa Rosa CA – Avoiding Medication Errors

Know What All Medications Are For

When the doctor prescribes a new medication, make certain family caregivers and the older adult understand what the medication is for. Ask the doctor to clarify what the medication is supposed to do and how soon the senior can expect to see a difference. In addition, ask about any side effects that may occur and when the older adult should contact the doctor.

Keep a Complete Medication List

Make a list of all the medications the older adult takes. Include the name of the medicine, the dosage, and the purpose. Include any over the counter medications and supplements they use, too. Ask the senior’s doctor to review the list periodically to ensure none of the drugs interact. Remember to update the list whenever a medication is added or is no longer in use.

Clarify How Medications Should Be Taken

Sometimes seniors are confused about how medications are meant to be taken. For example, an older adult might mistake an eye drop for an ear drop. Learn whether a medication can be chewed or crushed safely. For some medications, chewing or crushing can change how the drug is absorbed.

Measure Accurately

When a medication says to take a teaspoon or a tablespoon, don’t use the silverware in the older adult’s drawer. They are not accurate for measurement. Instead, use the dose cup that came with the medicine or ask the pharmacist for an oral syringe.

Check for Errors at the Pharmacy

It’s a good idea to look for mistakes before even leaving the pharmacy. This ensures errors are caught before the senior takes the medicine. Make sure the name on the bottle matches the one the doctor said they were prescribing. When refilling a prescription, look at the pills to make sure they look like the ones the senior has been taking.

Use Elder Care

Although elder care providers cannot dispense medications to your aging relative, they can be a key component in making sure the senior doesn’t make an error in taking them. An elder care provider can remind the older adult when it is time to take medicine, ensuring they don’t miss a dose. Elder care providers can also keep an eye on the older adult to make sure they take the correct amount and that they don’t forget they took a medicine and take a double dose.


If you or an aging loved one are considering hiring Elder Care Services in Santa Rosa CA, call At Your Service Home Care.  Call today! (707) 573-1003

Lucy Andrews DNP, RN, MS

In 1988, after working as a clinical nurse in the University Health System at UC San Francisco, Lucy Andrews started understanding home care.

She became a discharge planner and immediately fell in love with the concept of home care and the autonomous clinical practice it affords nurses. Dr. Lucy was hooked and has been a strong supporter of home care ever since.Believing people need advocates in healthcare systems, she has championed that cause across the acute care and post-acute care setting.

Dr. Lucy has worked in every aspect of home care from Medicare Certified, DME, Infusion, Hospice and finally Private Duty/Private Pay services. She also works as a home care consultant across the country and as a legal nurse consultant for the home care industry.

Having worked in all areas of home care, Dr. Lucy has a well-rounded perspective of the challenges facing patients, families and the home care industry, and as a provider she advocates for patients through the maze of health care services. Dr. Lucy celebrated over 37 years as a nurse and patient advocate.

Dr. Lucy has a Baccalaureate Degree in Nursing from Lewis University, Romeoville, Illinois.In 1994, she received her Masters of Science in Health Service Administration from St. Mary's University, Moraga, California. Dr. Lucy received her Doctor of Nursing Practice awarded in 2016, graduating with Distinction and a 4.0 GPA.

She did her doctoral work on the global dementia crisis, aging and prevention strategies for healthy living. Developed dementia and Alzheimer's disease plans for aging patients leaving the hospital setting or entering long-term care or home health and hospice environments. She also developed a specialized program for those at risk for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

In 1992, Dr. Lucy was designated CAHSAH Certified Home Care Administrator in the inaugural offering of this designation through the California Association for Health Services at Home (CAHSAH).

She is the founder and CEO of Creative Solutions Home Care Consulting Services and At Your Service Nursing & Home Care, a concierge nursing & home care agency that provides the services she believes are essential for seniors to age in place.She offers a higher level of care allowing people to be in their own homes with an emphasis on independence, safety, and quality of life.

Dr. Lucy is the Vice Chair of the Board of Directors for the National Association for Home Care and Hospice (NAHC) and sits on the Board of Directors for California Association for Health Services at Home (CAHSAH).

She has served on the boards for both state and national board associations, and is currently on the following boards and committees: Board of Directors, California State Association for Health Services at Home (CAHSAH), 2002-present, National Association for Home Care and Hospice (NAHC's) Private Duty Home Care Association Director, and multiple state and national home care committees.

Dr. Lucy goes to Washington, DC, several times a year to advocate for senior services and home care issues. She was past Commissioner for the Sonoma Commission on Human Rights.She is past chair of the local Senior Advocacy Services.

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