As Seniors advance in age, additional medications may be prescribed to alleviate the new ailments and illnesses associated with the aging process. Medication management is a challenging task for older adults and caregivers. The management of multiple prescriptions is complex as drugs, generics, dosages, and methods of receiving them vary.
Medication management is crucial for patients having multiple health diagnoses. Polypharmacy (having numerous medications) is not uncommon among older adults. Consider the tips below to avoid possible medication complications.
Store Medications in One Location
All prescribed medications, vitamins, over the counter drugs, and/or supplements should be stored in one area to simplify management. A central location helps recognize when multiple prescriptions are used for a single health disorder, whether dosages have changed with refills, and when medications have expired.
Where is the best place to store medications? Experts recommend medication should be kept in a cool and dry area. A bathroom cabinet is often the first choice, but should be the last option due to moisture and heat. A kitchen counter is more appropriate. Seniors presumably think of taking medications when having a meal. If prescriptions require refrigeration the refrigerator is just a step away.
Presort and Organize Daily Medications
Organization is essential to proper medication management for Seniors. Pill organizers allow medications to be pre-sorted for the week. The ideal pill organizer is one with enough compartments for each dose needed throughout the day. This example has 28 total compartments – 4 daily doses categorized by day for one week.
If pills need to be split be proactive and do so ahead of time. Avoid fumbling with a pill cutter or remembering to split pills just before taking them.
Make a Complete List
It is crucial to know exactly what medications your older adult is taking. If someone else is needed to take care of your loved one temporarily, they need to know every detail. Always have an up-to-date list of medications, vitamins, supplements, and over-the-counter drugs.
Be sure to record:
- Names of each prescription, over-the-counter medication, vitamin, and supplement
- How often each is taken
- What dosage is used
- The healthcare provider who prescribed the medication
- The diagnosis or symptom it is prescribed for
Review Medications with a Professional
It is important to follow instructions when taking medications. Negative drug interactions, side effects, or a reduction of the drug’s effectiveness are minimized when following orders. Understand which medications are safe to take together or need to be spaced to prevent adverse reactions.
A full stomach is needed for some medications while others are more effective on an empty stomach. If there is any uncertainty, ask the prescribing doctor for an explanation and further instructions. Health is improved only when they are taken correctly.
Learn about Possible Interactions & Side Effects
Multiple prescriptions, vitamins, over-the-counter medications, or supplements may trigger potential side effects and/or drug interactions. It is important to know if using them together will cause negative drug interactions.
An online drug interaction checker is accessible to research drug interactions. If any interactions are noticed, call the doctor or pharmacist for advice immediately. Please do not make any changes without an expert.
Set Reminders & Implement a Tracking System
Multiple medications make it difficult for Seniors and caregivers to remember the specifics of each dose. A medication reminder system and tracking log helps identify taking the correct meds at the right times the correct way.
Create a chart with the medication name, dose, day, and time of day. As each dose is taken, record it with a checkmark or X. Visual reminders also act as documentation.
Various approaches help Seniors remember when it is time to take medication. Some prefer to set a series of alarms on their mobile phones. Tech-savvy Seniors may use a medication management app (like this one). Mealtimes traditionally become ideal times to take medication. Routines help your loved one remember their medications.
Plan Ahead for Refills
It is important to refill medications on time to avoid missing doses. Many Seniors have their doctor prescribe a 90-day supply and use a mail-order pharmacy. Mail pharmacies give timely reminders to renew prescriptions
Established pharmacies offer automatic refills and will notify the patient when prescriptions are ready to be picked up. They may have prescription delivery services available if no one is able to pick them up in person. New online pharmacy services such as PillPack or Phil offer delivery and medication coordination services. Should none of these options be practical, mark the refill dates on a calendar.
If the management of a Senior’s medications is becoming time-consuming and stressful it may be time to consider moving to a Senior Care Community where there are resources to assist residents with medication needs. Schedule a consultation with Bridge to Better Living to find the perfect home to meet all of your Senior or loved one’s needs.