Chances are that if your parents are over 65, they’re taking at least 3 medications at any given time to treat different health issues. And regardless of how long they’ve been taking those medicines, there’s also a good chance they will need a strict regimen of medication management to make sure that all of their medications are taken correctly and at the right time.
If your parents live in a retirement community that offers assisted care, they probably already have their medications taken care of for them, but seniors who live at home will need to find ways to manage on their own. Luckily, there are some easy ways for you and your parents to monitor and maintain their medication usage.
Drug Chronotherapy— an Important New Field of Study
One of the most fascinating aspects of the human body– and one that has been a popular avenue of recent study– is the way that we work in sync with the world around us.
Both awake and asleep, our body develops rhythms that impact how medications work which makes the timing of the medication we take crucial to its effectiveness. While all medications that are taken, regardless of the time of day, are effective to some degree, taking certain medications at specific times of the day has been shown to actually increase their effectiveness.
In recent years, there have been significant advances made in how we understand the timing of drug treatments for various senior ailments and diseases.
Known as drug chronotherapy, the timing of the medications your loved one takes should be modified to allow the greatest benefits while also offering the lowest risk of side effects. For example, once-a-day prescriptions that have no specific timing instructions (i.e. in the morning or after eating) are often more effective when taken at night and allowed to work as your body is resting.
Timing and Effectiveness
While not every medication has been studied for chronotherapy purposes, medical researchers have developed a set of guidelines for some of the more common drugs used to treat illnesses and diseases common to senior healthcare
· High Blood Pressure. Taking ACE Inhibitors and ARBS at night, before bed, will help seniors with high blood pressure mimic the body’s natural processes of slowing down during sleep, and dropping blood pressure drops accordingly—something that does not occur as appreciably among those who suffer from high blood pressure.
· Rheumatoid Arthritis. RA is caused by the body mistakenly attacking the cells that line the joints, resulting in swelling, stiffness, and joint pain. Taking aspirin or NSAIDs during dinner time or just before bed helps stop the production of cytokines, the main cause of morning symptoms, by allowing the higher concentrations of the drug to work more effectively when the body is at rest which will provide more relief.
· High Cholesterol. The liver produces the highest amount of plaque-building cholesterol during the evening and night, and the lowest during the morning hours, so taking statin medications at night, just before bedtime, will helps better control the increase and buildup of cholesterol.
In addition to following the above guidelines, you can help your parents create a regimen that best suits their lifestyle and personal capacities to ensure continued health and quality of life. Starting can be as simple as purchasing a daily medication case that mom or dad can use to help them keep track of when to take each medication – especially when most seniors take upwards of 5 medications on a regular basis.
Please remember, though, that your loved ones should always consult their primary care physician before making any changes to their medication habits. There is no one correct methodology, so finding what suits your loved ones best starts with open and honest communication between you, your loved ones, and their physicians.