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FROM THE EDITOR'S PEN  / Preventing Senior Accidental Overdoses

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Preventing Senior Accidental Overdoses

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A growing concern for family caregivers is the possibility of a loved one’s accidental overdose. This is an issue I hear about with alarming frequency as we travel the country on our Fearless Caregiver Conference tour. If nothing else, the statistics bear out the potential for danger to our loved ones.

Older women consume 60 percent of all prescription and over-the-counter medications. The number of prescriptions written for older adults averages 18.5 per person per year, and 83 percent of people over 65 are taking prescription medications. With this many medications to take on a regular basis, an accidental overdose could be a problem for anyone; but for many of our loved ones, the risks are increased by memory loss, hearing difficulties and low vision.

It is vitally important that, as caregivers, we pay attention to the potential for an accidental overdose by a loved one.

Some things we can do:

Pay attention to any changes in their speech patterns, mental acuity, physical strength or level of depression or confusion.

Regularly check the medicine cabinet and refrigerator for medication usage patterns, expiration dates, and to ensure timely refills.

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