Beyond Medication Management: Making Sense of Unexpected Side Effects

Not everything gets better with age…lookin’ at you, knees. With the side effects of aging come the abundance of medications we add to our pillboxes, and with those come the potential for side effects of their own making. So, how do we make sense of unexpected – and unwanted – side effects of medications?

Side effects are defined as secondary reactions to medications that are usually adverse. These can be the result of interactions with one or several of the other drugs or supplements in our arsenal of prescription and over-the-counter medications, certain foods, beverages, or health conditions. While some side effects subside as we adjust to new medications, some can be very dangerous.

“It’s important to be aware of possible adverse reactions to new medications prior to taking them,” says Jillian Castellano, Director of Community Relations at YourLife™ of Palm Beach Gardens, a senior living community offering Independent Living with Supportive Services, Assisted Living and Memory Care in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. “If you experience any abnormal or worrisome side effects, make a list of your symptoms, when they most often appear, and possible lifestyle or pharmaceutical triggers, and contact your doctor right away.”

In this post, we’ll look at why you might experience unexpected side effects and what to do about them.

  1. CHANGES WITH AGE
    As we age, our bodies begin to absorb medications differently. This can have a substantial impact on how we react not only to new prescriptions but also to those we’ve taken for years with no previous problems.
     
  2. POLYPHARMACY

The field of medicine is pretty amazing with its ability to medicate just about anything that ails you. Of course, as we grow older, the number of medications we take increases. At some point, some of these may become redundant, render others ineffective, or mix adversely with others. Mild to serious side effects might include excessive drowsiness, confusion, depression, loss of appetite, loss of balance leading to falls, incontinence, changes in memory and speech, rashes, irregular heartbeats, and others.

  1. FLUCTUATIONS IN BODY WEIGHT

Something common, but not inevitable, with seniors is frequent fluctuations in body weight. This can have an unpredictable impact on our bodies’ tolerance to certain medications, the way we process them, and their potential side effects.

  1. PRESCRIBING CASCADE

Multiple medications can mean multiple risks for a prescribing cascade. This occurs when side effects of one medication are misdiagnosed as a new medical condition – and treated with another prescription. This can become a dangerous cycle where the original problems are never addressed.

HOW TO MINIMIZE OR AVOID MEDICATIONS’ ADVERSE EFFECTS

  • Manage, store, and use medications properly.
  • Set alarms to remind you when to take which medication.
  • With every new prescription, always be sure to inform your doctor of other drugs you are currently taking, including over the counter.
  • Talk to your pharmacist about your medications and potential side effects.
  • Talk to your doctor if you are experiencing adverse effects. Be sure to take to your appointment:
    • A list of all current medications
    • A list of symptoms you are experiencing
    • The times of day when symptoms are likely to appear
    • Your medical history
    • A list of your eating habits

When you get a new prescription, ask your doctor how and when to take your new medication. Find out if you need to take it with food or water and how it may react with your other medications, including over-the-counter medications or supplements. Ask what you should do if you miss a dose and how much time you should wait between doses.

Also, be sure you understand all instructions, e.g., ask what “as needed” means. Find out how you’ll know such medication “is needed.” Also ask if you should avoid alcohol, types of foods, or anything else while on the medication and what the potential side effects might look like.

Aging can be as delightful as fine wine, but like a bad hangover, medication side effects can be painful consequences. Knowing what you’re putting into your body and how it should work – and taking proactive steps to avoid adverse interactions and reactions will help.

 

Learn how our 24-hour care team masters safe, effective medication management for residents at YourLife™ of Palm Beach Gardens. Give us a call at 561-214-8549!

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Inspired • Engaged • Fulfilled

Offering Independent Living with Supportive Services, Assisted Living and Memory Care, YourLife™ of Palm Beach Gardens was designed specifically with residents in mind. We know your life is shaped by family, friends, hobbies, passions and more, so we’ve created a community where you can enjoy comfort, independence and engagement, all while having the peace of mind of 24-hour support and the freedom to define your own lifestyle. Here, we shape each thing we do around you, from your routines and interests to your choices and preferences, to create an inspiring lifestyle that fits your life perfectly.

Because we are completely shaped around you, our residents get more of out their lives. With exceptional care delivered by a dedicated and compassionate team and a fulfilling lifestyle full of choice and convenience, residents have the support they need to live as independently and engaged as possible.

Each day holds something new for residents. Whether they are enjoying our exclusive activities, learning something new or simply engaging in our YourStory programming, we create an individual experience centered around each resident. Do you enjoy making new discoveries and trying new hobbies, simply want to continue the hobbies you love or enjoy some time to yourself to relax? At YourLife™ of Palm Beach Gardens, the choice is up to you.

Call us at 561-214-8549 for more information or to schedule a personal visit today.

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