5 Tips for Good Medication Management
Older adults take prescription medications more than any other demographic. Remembering to take medication in the first place can be a challenge, so if you’re taking multiple medications several times a day, it can be overwhelming.
Medication management plays a vital part in managing a health condition. Missed doses or improper use can be very harmful. If you’re a caregiver to a loved one, that person is depending on you to ensure that they take the medications they need to take when they’re supposed to take them.
Here at LifeSource Home Health, our skilled, licensed nurses are experts in methods of medication management. Here are our five top tips to help you manage your medications or those of a loved one.
1. Invest in a pillbox or dispenser
Though it’s a common solution, many people begin medical regimens without thinking they’ll need a pillbox. These boxes are usually marked daily (M for Monday, T for Tuesday, etc.) and have seven compartments for seven days a week. Some may have 30 to 31 compartments to cover an entire month.
One way to manage medications and ensure you don’t run out unexpectedly is to plan several days or weeks in advance. Pillboxes are an excellent way to both keep your medications organized and also remind you of when it may be time to refill prescriptions.
Pillboxes come in a variety of sizes, colors, and shapes, but if you’re unsure about which to get, ask your doctor or pharmacist what might work best for your medications. Just be sure that whatever you choose, the compartment is large enough to fit all your prescribed pills.
Likewise, you can invest in an automatic dispenser, which can be programmed to dispense your medications for you at a set time every day. Some will even ping you or your caregiver if meds were missed that day. These vary in price and functionality but are worth the investment if you find yourself forgetting, even with a pillbox.
2. Set reminders
While a pillbox can help you stay organized, a reminder is an added step that can really ensure you stay on track.
If an older adult doesn’t have a smartphone, alarm clocks and other reminder systems make for both great gifts and helpful tools. If they do, setting a reminder on their phone is another simple and effective way to set reminders. Caregivers can set these same reminders for themselves as well.
Some reminder devices are marketed specifically to older adults—these allow you to program reminders in any language and for any time, multiple times a day. For caregivers, devices like this take the “nag” factor out of mundane tasks. This allows you to focus on more important things, like quality time with your loved one. However, you don’t need a device that is specifically marketed to seniors. A multi-alarm alarm clock is another simple, inexpensive option that is easy to program and use.
3. If possible, use a single pharmacy
Though it might be easy to pop into the nearest drugstore after a doctor appointment or stop by the hospital pharmacy before you’re discharged, it’s best to have all your prescriptions filled at the same pharmacy. While you can transfer prescriptions between pharmacies, information may get lost in the transfer or delayed. This can cause delays in refills.
Most pharmacists today have an electronic record of all the prescriptions a patient has filled, making it easier to spot “red flag” combinations of drugs that might cause a problem.
4. Store your medications properly and take them as recommended
Many medications have storage instructions. While most simply want to sit at a dry, cool temperature, some need should be refrigerated. Noting these things in a place where you’ll see them is important. Your bathroom, which heats up and becomes humid when you shower or bathe, isn’t really the best place to store your medicine. The living room or bedroom may be a better option.
Your doctor and pharmacist can go over medication instructions with you. Take the right amount, at the recommended time. Know whether to take your medication with or without food or water. If you drink alcohol, find out if it’s safe to do so while taking your medicines. Ask what you should do if you accidentally skip a dose—take it when you remember, or skip the dose if it’s too close to the next one? Remember: never discontinue a prescription medication or change the amount you take without first discussing it with your healthcare provider.
5. Review your medications with your doctor regularly
Are there drugs you should no longer be taking? Could two or more of your medications be dangerous if taken together? Are you having side effects like dizziness or nausea? Talk to a single healthcare provider about all the prescription and nonprescription medicines you take—a yearly “spring cleaning” of your medicine cabinet is a good approach. This includes herbs and supplements. Bring in a list of your medications or bring in all your pill bottles with their labels.
Whether you’re managing your own medication or that of a loved one, organizing and automating the more mundane aspects can alleviate a lot of prescription-related stress. LifeSource Home Health’s skilled nursing care can help you manage your medications safely and effectively, so you don’t have to worry about remembering it all on your own.