3 Tips for Better Medication Management

Keeping up with the schedule for multiple prescription medications, not to mention watching out for over-medicating or mixing incompatible drugs, is one of the toughest tasks for any family caregiver. These three medication management tips can help make that job a lot more manageable.

Inform Yourself

One of the top medication management issues for older patients is over-medication, says Elizabeth Landsverk, MD, founder ElderConsult Geriatric Medicine, in Burlingame, California. That’s why it’s important for patients and caregivers alike to understand the purpose of each prescribed drug. They also need to be assertive enough to ask questions, even though Landverk acknowledges it may take some persistence to get doctors to pay attention to their concerns.

“The biggest thing that a family member can do is go with their family member to the doctor and ask, ‘Do we really need this?'” Landverk says.

Pharmacists can be helpful in explaining how various drugs might interact and what their side effects might be, she adds. They also can help clear up confusion between one drug and another with a similar-sounding name, or between a brand-name drug and its generic equivalent.

Monitor the Supply

Medication management is especially challenging when the patient suffers from some type of dementia or cognitive impairment, but even ordinary forgetfulness can cause a failure to take medicine as directed.

If Dad is in charge of managing his own medications, but you’re worried he might be having trouble, take a peek at the medicine cabinet for clues. If you notice that a medicine bottle still looks nearly full even though you refilled the prescription weeks ago, he might be skipping some doses. If he’s already almost out of pills, he might be doubling up.

“That’s a sign that a family member should help them with their medication,” Landverk says.

Organize and Automate

When you sense that it’s time intervene, the solution might be as simple as getting a pill organizer so you can set up the daily doses ahead of time. For those who need a stronger memory aid, there are automatic pill dispensers that flash a light when it’s time to take the medicine, Landverk notes.

“If their medication doesn’t get taken in 10 minutes or so, a voice or noise goes off to remind them until they take it,” she says.

Some automated medication management systems will even call the patient and notify the caregiver if that pill stays in the dispenser too long.

Another useful tech tool is a medication reminder app, that lets you input information about your medications and receive an alert whenever it’s time to take a dose or order a refill.

If you encounter some resistance from Mom or Dad to the idea that they need help managing their meds, let them know they have plenty of company.

“Three out of four Americans struggle to take their medications as directed,” states the National Consumers League article.

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Tagged with: medication management, medication management tips, medication reminder app

3 thoughts on “3 Tips for Better Medication Management

  1. Kate Hansen
    October 24, 2016 at 7:37 am

    My mom manages her own medication, but lately I’ve been worried about her taking too much or too little of her medications. I like how you mention that you can get a pill organizer to start managing daily doses of medication for your loved one. I think if that doesn’t work, it might be time to take further action and talk to the doctor or a senior care center.

  2. Alice diez
    October 26, 2016 at 3:30 pm

    I use the bubble pack. Organized and free of charge by pharmacy. Its awesome. No guessing games and you have full count per week for entire month.

  3. Lilly
    November 17, 2016 at 8:48 pm

    I bought my mom a pill organizer. A row for morning, afternoon, evening, and bedtime. I fill it every Monday. Due to some er visits/hospitalizations and her pcp and cardio, there is much confusion over her potassium pills. Everyone has a different opinion. It’s scary. Then, she falls asleep early in the evening and the evening and bedtime pills aren’t taken regularly. I like the idea of the automated system. I didn’t know it existed. thanks

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