Tips on Safe Medication Management for Seniors

One of the biggest challenges for seniors and their family caregivers is managing the medication that they must take.  Frequently, seniors have to take multiple medications throughout the day.  It can be difficult for them to remember to take it at the correct time or they may take it too often if they forget that they already had taken their medication.

Seniors can also take more than the prescribed amount of medicines or the recommended amount of over-the-counter medication.  This can cause everything from feeling tired and groggy or nauseous to requiring a trip to the emergency room.  Mixing up your medicine can result in serious consequences and even be fatal.  This worry for family members can cause them to seek other living arrangements before the senior needs to move.  However, there are other options to help seniors with their medication.

Tools to Help with Medication

  • The medicine planner – This is a helpful tool for seniors who might get mixed up on what to take when.  You can use them to plan an entire week’s worth of medicine for each dose. This way, the senior doesn’t have to remember when to take which medicine and the family member doesn’t have to be there for every dose.
  • Automated machines – These machines dispense medicine at the correct time.  This assistance is ideal for people who take a medicine twice because they      forgot the first dose.  They hear an alarm and then audible reminders. If the medicine is still not taken, the service calls a family caregiver to alert them.

Tips to Reduce Medicine Mix-ups

  1. Keep a list of every medicine the senior takes, dosage, and frequency. Include over-the-counter medication, vitamins, and herbal supplements along with prescribed medicine.  Update it regularly.  Take the list when you go to doctor appointments to prevent interaction between medicines.  Carry it with you if they go to the hospital.
  2. Store the medicines properly and throw away any expired or unused medicine.
  3. Find out from the doctor or pharmacist what to do if a dose is missed.  Also ask about symptoms or side effects from either missing a dose or taking an extra one.
  4. Fill all of the prescriptions at one pharmacy.
  5. Always read the patient information that comes with the medicine.
  6. Keep bottles of medicine locked away if you are putting the medications in a planner or automated machine.
  7. Count the medicine that is left in the bottle every time you visit and calculate how many should be missing from last visit.  This will alert you if they are not taking their medicine or taking too much.
  8. When giving a newly prescribed medication, stay with your family member if possible to see how they will react to it. Make sure there is no allergic reaction or side effects; also notice if it makes them sleepy or agitated.  Beware that some medicines take several doses to show effects as it builds up in their system.

Enlisting Outside Help

If you are still concerned about your loved one after taking all of these steps, the next plan may be to enlist outside help.  While moving them to an assisted living facility is one option, if they are capable of living on their own, you may want to first consider homecare services.

Homecare services can schedule a caregiver to be in the home during medication time. They can remind the senior to take their medication and monitor them for a reaction.

Couples can mix up medicines and accidently take each other’s doses.  Keep planners marked and in separate locations.  Pay close attention to medications that have serious reactions such as high blood pressure medicines for someone that has low blood pressure.

Stress the importance of not sharing medicines with someone else.  If your father is exhibiting the same symptoms as your mother’s conditions, she may have given him some of her medicine rather than going to the doctor.

If you have a loved one that needs assistance with their medication, contact Carefect Homecare Services to assist you.  We can provide caregivers that will help with medication reminders and to monitor how a medicine affects the person.  Our caregivers provide personal care and housekeeping for seniors, as well as help with meal preparation and medication reminders.  Our caregivers will make sure the senior takes their medicines with meals if it is recommended and provide other services to help you when you can’t be with them.  You can rest easier, knowing that your loved one is cared for.