A third of people between the ages of 75 and 85 take more than five prescription medications due to multiple chronic conditions, as well as additional over-the-counter medicine. It’s easy to get confused with times and dosages. Additionally, some seniors struggle with poor vision, so it is hard to read the labels, and impaired memory, which makes it tough to remember when to take medications.
It can be dangerous should seniors take the wrong dosage, at the wrong time, or skip taking pills altogether. They may become sicker and need more hospital visits, causing their medical bills to increase.
As a family member, you may be concerned about your senior loved one’s well-being and safety, but you may not know how to help them keep their medicine regimen straight. There are a few tools and practices you can employ to help seniors take control of managing their medication, keeping them safe and on schedule while giving you peace of mind.
Medication Management Tools and Tips for Seniors
Many tools and tips can help improve the management of medication. Here are a few examples of what you can do:
First, it is important to create a pill card that lists all medications seniors take, both prescription, over-the-counter, and other supplements. The card should include why they take the medicine, when they should take it, as well as the dosage. You can also add the pill shape and color or a picture of the pill for easy reference.
It may be a good idea to accompany seniors to the doctor and pharmacy to help understand the reasons for taking medications and their instructions. You can also ask the questions they forget to ask or are too embarrassed to ask. Take the pill card to show the doctor or pharmacist which medications they already take in case some prescriptions are redundant or should new prescriptions don’t work well with current ones.
Next, create a calendar listing when your senior loved one should take which medications and at what dosages. Put the schedule in a visible place such as on the fridge and also one in their purse or wallet so they can easily refer to it when going out. Also, make sure you note refill reminders to avoid running out of medication. This calendar can be marked off every time medication is taken.
If seniors find it difficult to open pill bottles, their vision is impaired, or multiple drugs are taken, a pill box organizer will come in handy. These vary widely in size and functionality, so choose one that best fits the needs of the senior in your care. Some varieties have only one compartment for each day, while others have several compartments for different times of the day. You can help them fill up this box once a week.
There are also electronic pill organizers on the market. Some will sound an alarm when it’s time to take medication, and others will “talk” and relay instructions and reminders verbally.
Additionally, it is a good idea to set a daily routine where seniors in your care can get used to taking medications at the same time and place every day, decreasing the risk of forgetting.
You can set email or phone reminders with detailed instructions.
Many smartphone and tablet apps can help you and your loved one stay on top of their medication schedule. Some are more user-friendly than others, and some versions are free while others have paid premium versions. Take your time to research the different options and choose one that works best for your senior loved one. Here are just some of the features these apps can provide:
A dashboard screen that clearly shows the medicine cycle for each day.
Setting reminders when to take pills, as well as dosages and other instructions if necessary.
Those that prompt you to click a button after medication was taken are quite handy. If the button isn’t clicked, it will keep on reminding them to take the pill.
Most apps can be synced with that of a family member or home caregiver so they can help monitor and remind seniors to take their medications in case they forget.
Reminders for refills and other appointments.
Some apps even measure blood pressure, pulse, weight, and temperature.
Some apps suggest best prices of medications at nearby pharmacies or provide discount coupons at certain drugstores.
Many also provide a report that can be printed out or sent to the doctor.
One app we’ve seen even allows you to take a picture of the pill box after which it will automatically import the details into the app, such as the name, dosage, and frequency, so you don’t need to add all medications and instructions manually.
Another option is to employ the services of a home caregiver. Among the tasks they will perform for your senior loved one is the management of their medication schedule. With a home caregiver on board, you can have peace of mind that your senior loved one is looked after and their medications are taken at the right time and the correct dosages.
With so many different options available, it is so much easier to keep an eye on the medication regimen of your senior loved one. Try out a few different options to find the right mix that works for you and the seniors in your care and help them stay safe and in control of their medications.