Medication Management: Tips for Caregivers

Medication management for your senior can be overwhelming, especially if your loved one has a chronic condition, but it’s a very important role for caregivers. Patients who take medication correctly are three times more likely to have a positive outcome from the treatment than those who don’t, according to a study published in Medical Care.

The Caregiver Action Network offers a number of ways to help you manage your loved ones’ medications and to ensure they’re taking them correctly.

Keep a Comprehensive List

One of the most important things you can do to protect your loved ones when it comes to his or her medications is to make a comprehensive list that includes prescriptions, supplements, and over-the-counter medications. Write down the name of the drug, including both the generic and brand names. Also list the dose, what it’s for, and the dates it was taken. Any side effects that are experienced while on the drug should also be added. It’s also a good idea to record what the medication looks like, including color and size, in case you need to ask about any changes in appearance after a refill.

Make at least four copies of this list. Carry one in your purse or wallet. Also give one to the primary care physician, ask that one be placed in the patient’s file, and hang one on the refrigerator or in another easy-to-find place in your loved one’s home.

Get to Know the Medication Safety Team

While you play a vital role, you’re not the only person charged with managing your loved one’s medication. Doctors, pharmacists, hospital staff, and case managers also act as members of the medication safety team. They have all the answers you need to keep your senior safe and healthy.

The members of this team can help you understand the terms used in medication management and the signs of an adverse drug reaction. Don’t be afraid to ask them for more information about new prescriptions or why changes are being made to existing medications.

Using a single pharmacy is also key, because you’ll want to build a relationship with the pharmacist and staff there so that you’re more comfortable asking questions. For every medication, you should always ask several important questions:

  • What happens if you skip a dose?
  • Is there a risk of a reaction? Side effects?
  • Should it be taken with food? Are there foods that should be avoided?
  • How do I know if the medication is working?

Consider Resources for Daily Management

Still, the daily task of medication management falls primarily on the caregiver. Creating a system that works for your specific situation is the best way to manage numerous meds. Pill boxes can help you stay organized, and auto-refill programs ensure you never run out of medication for chronic conditions. If your loved one still lives independently, you may want to invest in a medication dispenser. These devices, such as the Philips Medication Dispensing Service, dispense medication according to a preset schedule. Alarm reminders notify users it’s time to take their pills.

Keeping your loved ones on their medication schedule can be difficult. By following these tips and making use of the resources and tools available, though, you take some of the stress out of medication management. This will help make the process easier and leave you able to focus on spending more quality time with your senior.

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