If you’re caring for an aging loved one who takes one or more pills per day, you need to come up with a comprehensive medication management plan. Taking the wrong pill or an inappropriate dose might be life-threatening, and an accident can happen in the blink of an eye if you don’t plan ahead. Here are five steps caregivers can take to prevent medication mishaps.
1. Don’t Hesitate To Ask Questions
Whenever your loved one is given a new prescription, try to ask as many questions as possible before you leave the doctor’s office. Even if you plan on doing some research on your own, the doctor should give you plenty of information regarding the proper dosage, the potential side effects, and why the drug was prescribed. The doctor or a pharmacist can also tell you if the medication needs to be taken with food or at a certain time each day.
2. Keep A List Of All Prescriptions
One of the most effective ways to prevent a medication mishap is to keep an updated list of all the medications your loved one is taking. In addition to the names of the medications, you should also write down how often they need to be taken, alternative names for the drugs, and potential side effects. You can write down any unusual side effects you’ve noticed as well. When you update the list or add any new medications, make a few copies and hand them out to anyone who is going to be looking after your loved one.
Medication errors can be very serious for seniors, so it’s a good idea to consider hiring a professional caregiver to prevent medication mixups. Many seniors prefer aging in place over moving to an assisted living facility.
3. Stick To A Single Pharmacist And Pharmacy
Most medical professionals have access to software that allows them to view a senior’s active prescriptions, but those programs aren’t always reliable, which is why older adults should try to use a single pharmacist for all of their medication needs. By sticking to one pharmacist, you’ll have a much better idea of exactly what your loved one is taking. The pharmacist will also be able to check on past prescriptions and notify you of any potential drug interactions.
If your loved one lives alone, you may not be able to manage his or her medications closely, but a trained professional caregiver can monitor your loved one’s medication schedule and much more.
4. Organize The Pills At The Start Of Each Week
Instead of rummaging through prescription bottles each morning, you might want to organize your loved one’s medications at the start of the week. The easiest way to keep track of pills is to invest in a pill organizer with clear labels for each compartment. If your loved one has any issues with cognitive health, consider using a pill organizer with locks or alarms. You’ll also need to hide the extra bottles and pills in a safe location.
5. Download A Pill Reminder App
Many companies have released pill reminder apps that let you track different medications with your smartphone, tablet, or computer. Those apps usually have huge databases that include pictures of various pills, potential side effects, and basic information on dosages. Some of them also have alarm features that send out a text or email when it’s time to take the next round of pills.