Managing medications can be a big part of caregiving, and should be part of summer safety because heat can affect both your carereceiver and medications.
It startled me the first time I found suppositores in my carereceiver’s refrigerator. Coming from a medical background where separate refrigerators were used for medications and food, it was definitely a surprise.
Suppositories are one of the groups of medications most obviously affected by the heat are suppositories. They’re designed to melt in body heat, so it makes sense that if the air temperature is above their optimal storage temperature, that they would get soft and even melt. They can be nonprescription or prescription.
How are medications affected by the summer heat?
- The heat directly affects some medications. Some should not be stored at temperatures above 78 degrees Fahrenheit. Consider this if the air conditioner stops suddenly, or your carereceiver doesn’t have air conditioning.
Your carereceiver may also be uncomfortable in cooler air, and for this reason may keep the temperature warmer than 78 degrees. This is particularly true in elders, because changes with aging include having more difficulty regulating body heat.
- Some medical conditions and medications can interfere with the body’s ability to respond efficiently to increasing heat.
- And some medications work by increasing the water the body expels, usually through increased urination. Diuretics are one class of medications that cause the body to lose water, even in heat. Because they aid the body in removing excess water, taking them can be life saving. They can also be an added risk for dehydration in hot weather.
So what can you do about this?
- Check the temperature at which your carereceiver’s medications are stored, and if the medications need to be at a lower temperature. Your carereceiver’s pharmacist or other medical team member can give you specific information about your situation, including where and how to best store medications.
- Make sure that your carereceiver is taking his or her medications and fluids as directed. And if he or she has fluid, salt, sodium or potassium restriction check with his or her doctor or other medical team member to be sure everything is okay. Ask them how to spot problems before they occur, and any advice they can give you in keeping your carereceiver.
- If your carereceiver takes nonprescription medications, be sure his or her doctor and pharmacist are aware of them. There can be unexpected side effects from combining certain nonprescription and prescription medications. This includes vaccinations. Or nonprescription medications may affect your carereceiver’s health in other ways.
Some additional information for elders and medication safety is in the following guide from Pfizer:
These summer safety caregiving tips for medications can help you in giving care. Do you have any additional tips? Share them in the comments if you do (you can comment by logging in to Facebook or Google Plus).
Please Note: The information and suggestions in this article and on this website are for educational purposes only and not intended to diagnose or treat any condition. Check with your carereceiver’s medical team about what potential risks apply in your situation, and for recommendations.