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Medication and dementia

If you are living with dementia you may be currently taking a wide variety of medication.

In addition to this, it’s likely that you’ll be living with other long-term conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, or high blood cholesterol. Each of these can be treated with a variety of medications.

In the UK, more than 1 in 10 people over the age of 65 takes at least 8 different medications every day.

Is it possible to be on too many forms of medication?

There’s no set limit to how many forms of medication you can take.  However, if 3 or 4 doctors each individually prescribe you a different set of pills, it’s easy to overlook the combined effect they might be having.

You might find it hard to keep on top of everything you’re supposed to take, and end up missing doses regularly. Or it might be a real source of anxiety for you to remember to take your medication.

More medication can increase your risk of experiencing harmful side effects. Age UK recently found that the risk of falls increases the more medications you are taking.

This isn’t to say that the answer is always to cut down on the medication you’re taking. However, if you’re worried you might be experiencing some of the issues mentioned above, you’re completely entitled to ask for a medication review from your doctor.

What is a medication review?

A medication review is a chance to speak to your doctor about all of the medication you’re taking and how they affect you. You can talk about any side effects you’re experiencing and any difficulties you have with sticking to the regime prescribed.

It’s good practice to review your medication regularly but this doesn’t always happen and sometimes you have to be the one to ask for it. As a result of your review, the doctor might recommend that you take your medication in a different way, recommend a change of dosage, or help simplify things by recommending you stop certain medications altogether.

Making medication management easier

If you’re just finding it hard to remember which medication to take and how much, there are lots of things that can help:

  • Use a dossette box to store your medication – you can store medication by day and sometimes by the time of day, making things much more straightforward. You can also add labels to compartments in the box to explain why you’re taking the medication in question.
  • Many pharmacies will package and deliver medication to you, ensuring that you are given the amount you need for that week or fortnight. This will help prevent you from taking too many at once.
  • Use other memory aids, such as a Memrabel daily reminder clock, to remind you when it’s time to take your medication

Further information

How to Get Your Medicines Reviewed – https://ebpcooh.org.uk/get-your-medicines-reviewed/

Age UK: Why more isn’t always better with older people’s medicines – https://www.ageuk.org.uk/globalassets/age-uk/documents/reports-and-publications/reports-and-briefings/health–wellbeing/medication/190819_more_harm_than_good.pdf

You can make a positive difference for people in your community living with dementia by supporting Dementia Oxfordshire.  Find out more.

       

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