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Medication Management: What to Know About Drug Interactions

Seniors often take large numbers of medications to manage multiple health conditions. With the increased number of medications comes an increased risk of those medications interacting—with each other, with over-the-counter meds, and even with foods.

If you’re like many caregivers, you’re at least partially responsible for managing the medication regimen for your aging loved one. How much do you know about potential drug interactions?

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If you or a loved one are currently enrolled in a managed care organization through Community HealthChoices, you may feel like you’re not getting the help managing medications that you need. Or maybe you’re having difficulty affording copays.

It can be difficult enough to keep track of one medication for your loved one, nevertheless many. But that’s where Senior LIFE can help.

We offer comprehensive medication management, including delivery of medications to the member’s home each month. Part of this medication management includes a pharmacy team that carefully reviews each member’s medications, OTC vitamins and meds, and any other potential causes for interactions.

And members of Senior LIFE pay no copays or other costs for medications, since everything is covered through the Senior LIFE Program.

Learning more about medication management can help caregivers avoid potentially life-threatening drug interactions, so we’ve outlined what you need to know and how Senior LIFE can help.

What Is Medication Management?

Before we talk about Senior LIFE’s medication management, let’s first take a look at the types of interactions that may impact older adults.

When two or more substances are taken together, there is often the risk of a negative reaction, or interaction. This can happen between two drugs or even when you take certain meds with certain foods!

These adverse reactions can result in ineffectiveness at best, or cause serious side effects at worst. There are a few types of interactions you should know about to help keep your elderly loved one safe.

Drug-drug Interactions

This type of interaction happens when two drugs are taken together.

There are many medications that simply shouldn’t be taken together, because they can cause each other to become ineffective or the ingredients together can lead to dangerous side effects, such as falls or unnecessary hospital admissions.

But there also some medication interactions that occur due to how a particular person reacts to the medication combo.

Drug-drug interactions often crop up when someone sees multiple physicians who may prescribe medications that don’t work well together. That’s a benefit of Senior LIFE—all care is managed through the program, so all medical providers, including physicians and specialists, work collaboratively to ensure care is optimized and interactions are avoided.

Drug-food Interactions

Adverse reactions between drugs and certain foods are a definite health hazard for older adults, particularly because they often take many medications. Foods can either make medications work less effectively or become dangerously potent.

For example, certain blood thinners, like warfarin, interact with foods such as broccoli and leafy greens, which contain a high amount of vitamin K. Vitamin K can make warfarin levels fluctuate, leading to potentially dangerous complications.

In another example, drinking grapefruit juice or eating grapefruit while taking certain statins for lowering cholesterol levels can result in the medication being more potent.

It can be difficult to know what foods will interact negatively with your loved one’s medications, so speak to his or her doctor if you have concerns about diet.

Drug-disease Interactions

It could be that a loved one’s disease is interacting with an aspect of his or her medication, often known as a drug-disease interaction. If you’re concerned about your elderly loved one’s disease interacting with medications, consult with his or her doctor.

Many drugs influence those with diseases differently than those without. For example, those with asthma should avoid certain medications like ibuprofen, as it could cause the airway to constrict.

Drug-related problems are unfortunately all too commonplace in the elderly population. Many times combined drugs result in ineffectiveness, although there also can be adverse drug effects, overdoses, and severe interactions.

Adverse drug reactions are the most commonly seen problem in the majority of elder care instances. These reactions range from uncomfortable to dangerous and can often pose a serious threat.

Medicine management is a key way of ensuring your loved one remains safe from potential drug interactions, which can lead to serious side effects and even hospitalization. Senior LIFE has multiple steps in place to provide the medication management members need.

Senior LIFE & Medication Management

Senior LIFE wants your experience with medication to be as smooth as possible, which is why medication management is part of our comprehensive health services.

All members of the LIFE Program receive their medications through the program—and all medications are prescribed by your team of Senior LIFE medical providers. The doctors at Senior LIFE are intimately familiar with your loved one’s health concerns and work hard to find the right combination of medications.

Our medication management program provides all necessary prescriptions and even over-the-counter medication prescribed by the Senior LIFE doctor. With Senior LIFE, there’s no need to drive to the local pharmacy to pick up medications. Medications are delivered directly to the member’s home.

In addition to home delivery, we help to make sure that your loved one is taking the correct medications on the correct day at the correct time by pre-packaging the medications in materials that are easy to open and easy to understand. The packages even include instructions on when and how to take the medications, along with an image of each medication for easy identification.

LIFE members also have access to the Medication Therapy Management program, which gives members direct access to a Senior LIFE pharmacist. Members can ask questions, hear recommendations, and give feedback about their prescriptions.

Medication interactions can be a scary experience, and not one that we want your family to have to go through. The services at Senior LIFE are designed to allow your loved one to stay at home, while still receiving the medical care, support services, and medication management he or she needs.

Do you have concerns about the way your loved one’s medication is handled through his or her current managed care plan? The Senior LIFE team of expert medical professionals can help! Find the location nearest to you.

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