Medication Management in Assisted Living

If you are an older individual, a person commonly said to be in his or her Golden Years, you very likely take at least one medication (if not multiple prescription and over the counter products). Similarly, if you are the adult son or daughter of an aging parent, your mother or father is likely taking at least one medication. Medication management is an important issue to older individuals. This is the case whether a person lives on his or her own or resides in an assisted living community. Through this article, we discuss the importance of proper medical management for a resident of assisted living.

What Is Medication Management in Assisted Living?

Medication management in assisted living is considered a collaborative effort between you, your physician, and identified staff in an assisted living community. Medication management focuses on understanding your medications, how they work together, and taking them at the appropriate times with the goal of improving your health. 

As we all age, the chance of taking multiple medications increases (as was discussed a moment ago). This raises the risk that medication mix-ups might occur – including doubling a dose or missing one altogether. It also raises the risk of drug interactions and side effects. Medication management is vital in maintaining and improving your health. Medication management is key to reducing the risk of medication-related problems.

Accurate Medication Administration

When it comes to medication management in assisted living, the number one concern for a resident, a resident’s family, and community staff is accurate medication administration. The goal is to make certain designated staff are giving the right medication, in proper doses, at the right time.

One way an assisted living community can ensure this is happening is by documenting each administration of medication. Ask to check medication records to see how thoroughly the assisted living community’s medication documentation is maintained. 

The assisted living community might use an electronic health record system to help automate medication management. This type is system has a major objective to reduce human error. 

Packaging systems are another recent innovation that might be used in an assisted living setting. Packaging systems help to organize doses and clarify instructions to make it easier for assisted living staff to manage and administer medications. 

As you can see, there is more than one way of managing medications in an assisted living setting. Having said that, as a resident (or family member of a resident) you should be able to get a sense of whether the staff is doing so effectively and safely.

Clear Communication With Physicians

A clear, consistent communication connection must be maintained with a resident’s physician when a person resides in assisted living. Assisted living residents often undergo changes to their medications. 

This underscores the need for the community staff to maintain regular communication with each residents’ physicians to keep up with the latest medication regimens and directives. All new prescriptions or changes to prescriptions should be obtained by the community in writing. They should become part of an individual resident’s file. 

Monitoring Drug Reactions, Interactions, and Side Effects

Another primary objective of assisted living medication management is monitoring:

  • Drug reactions
  • Drug interactions
  • Side effects

When a new medication is prescribed, or an existing one has had a dosage alteration, it is important for a person involved in medication management to keen on eye on how an assisted living resident responds to the drug. An assisted living community should have an action plan that spells out how long to focus on monitoring for adverse reactions. (Of course, this is an ongoing obligation; however, when there is a medication change, that monitoring needs to be more focused.)

An assisted living community also needs to have in place a record-keeping system in regard to medicine changes and the monitoring of any adverse reactions to that alteration. Conversely, medication management also calls for documenting positive changes exhibited as the result of a medication change. 

Elements of a Medication Management Plan in Assisted Living

The elements of a medication management plan used in assisted living can include elements like:

  • Document existing medications
  • Review medication records for accuracy
  • Check for negative drug interactions
  • Document known adverse reactions to medications
  • Create a system to keep you organized 

Rate and Underlying Causes of Prescription Errors in the United States

Prescription medication errors are a widespread problem in the United States, including in long-term care communities. Over 1.3 million people across the United States sustain injuries as the result of prescription medication error. The most commonplace causes of prescription medication error across the country are:

  • Failure to properly read the doctor’s handwriting
  • Putting the wrong prescription into the pharmacy computer
  • Dispensing the wrong medication
  • Dispensing the wrong dosage of medication
  • Placing the wrong instructions on the medication
  • Failing to detect a new medication’s adverse interactions with existing medications

In the final analysis, a properly created and implemented medication management plan in an assisted living environment protects the health and wellbeing of a resident. It enhances the peace of mind of a resident’s family members as well.