Tips for Managing Medication Safely for Seniors
Many seniors require a variety of medications throughout the day to maintain their health. Remembering to take essential medication can be challenging for people of any age, but it gets significantly more complicated when you have to remember specific time restrictions and dosages for each regiment. Add in the fact that seniors may also be struggling with memory loss and it’s easy to see how a mix-up can happen.
Luckily, there are steps that you can take to help the older adult in your life to manage their prescription and over-the-counter medications effectively and safely.
- Store medication together in a safe place
It’s always a good idea to gather essential medication in one place for easy access when it is needed. The most common place to store medication is in a bathroom cabinet, but this can actually do more harm than good. Fluctuations in temperature and moisture (for example, from your shower or bath) can be detrimental to medicine. We recommend devoting a cabinet or drawer in another area of your home, making sure that it is out of reach from children or pets.
Keep in mind that some medication may need to be refrigerated. You should always follow the instructions of a doctor or pharmacist on the proper storage of your medicine.
- Keep track of potential drug interactions and side effects
Before beginning any new medication, it is always best to check with a doctor to make sure that it will work for you and not interact negatively with anything else your loved one may be taking. If your loved one starts a new medication that has side effects like drowsiness or nausea, make sure to keep track of it somewhere that they will see it when taking the medicine, so they can be sure to take the proper precautions.
- Set up a reminder system
No matter how old you are, it is inevitable that at some point you will find yourself saying “did I remember to take my pill today?” For seniors, the consequences of this question can be devastating. Forgetting to take medicine could potentially cause life-threatening complications to set in, and if you double up on a dose it could have the same effect.
In order to make sure that every dose is taken at the right time, we suggest helping your senior set up a process that works for them to track their medication. Weekly pill cases are a good way to set out exact doses in advance. If your loved one has medicine that can’t fit into a pill case, a monthly checklist of doses can be a helpful way to keep track.
- Establish a routine for refills
For long-term medication, it’s critical to keep track of when your loved one’s prescription needs to be refilled so that they always have the medicine they need. Most pharmacies have automatic refill programs that take the hassle out of remembering to call in for a refill. It may also be helpful to look into delivery options which will bring medication right to your door when it is needed.
These steps, when paired together, make managing a medication regiment much easier and safer for your loved one.