Managing Medications for Seniors

December 6, 2013
Helping aging parents manage medication is important role of caregiver

Helping aging parents manage medication is important role of caregiver

Family caregivers find that their day includes many roles when caring for their aging parents.  Managing medications for seniors may be one of the most challenging, yet important role.

How can ensure that your loved ones are taking the proper medications at the proper time? Read on to discover a few useful tips.

  • Keep a calendar. Many elderly individuals have multiple medicines to take every day.  You want to make sure that the prescriptions are always filled and up to date, which can be difficult when you have so many things to do.  It’s a good idea to keep track of prescription duties on a calendar (print, online, or electronic).  Make a note a week in advance of when a prescription is due, so that you can call it in on time.  It’s a good idea to come up with a system that makes sure you actually pick up the prescription; you might consider putting a big X through the due date after you have the medication in hand.  Finally, keep track on the calendar of when you are on the final refill and mark a date when you need to call or go by the doctor’s office for a refill prescription.
  • Track the daily doses. It’s very easy to lose track of which pills your loved one has taken throughout the day.  Developing a system that works for you is crucial.  One method is to purchase a dry erase board and hang it in the kitchen (or in whichever room the medicines are dispensed).  Create a grid with the names of each medication along the side and the hours of the day across the top. (Depending on the medication schedule, it may be easier to group the hours: maybe morning, afternoon, evening, or 9:00-11:00, 11:00-1:00, etc.)   Put a check mark in the appropriate grid box when each medicine is taken.  At the end of the day, erase the checkmarks so that it’s ready for the next days’ schedule.
  • Take a look at the pills. Before you leave the pharmacy, check the label to make sure you’ve been given the correct medication and dosage.  Also, look at the pills themselves; if they look different than you expect, check with the pharmacist to see if there is a reason.

    smaller medication

    Confirming prescriptions before leaving the pharmacy is important

  • Color code. If you have many medicines to keep track of, figure out a color coding system that works for you and put a little piece of colored tape on each bottle.  You might choose green for pills that are taken in the morning, red for the afternoon pills, blue for the evening pills, and yellow for bedtime pills.  Another option might be red for heart medicine, green for respiratory medicines, etc.
  • Timing can be everything. Perhaps Grandpa doesn’t like taking his medicine and puts up a big fuss. If this is the case, try to schedule it so that you give him the medicine right before his favorite television program; he will be anxious to not miss the program and might put up less resistance.
  • Call in. Sometimes you can’t be at home when it’s time for Father’s next dose.  When that’s the case, pick up the phone and call him when it’s time to take the medicine so that he doesn’t forget about it.

There are dozens of other prescription-based tips that you can explore to help learn how to be a great caregiver.  Everything you learn makes you better and makes your loved one healthier.

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