If your aging loved one is prescribed a lot of medications, make sure they are taking the right doses at the correct times. It’s easy to mistake one pill for another, or to forget about an earlier dosage. Since doctors prescribe exactly what needs to be taken, noncompliance — not following your doctor’s recommendations for treatment — can be very dangerous. Many adults aren’t purposefully noncompliant, they just don’t understand the schedule or how the medication works.
The first step of medication management is talking to your parent’s doctor. Bring them a complete list of all the medications they are taking and ask them about their effectiveness. Many medications are prescribed by specialists, without oversight from a primary physician, and could react negatively when combined. Also ask what each are for, and if they are absolutely necessary. Overprescribing is also a common in health care.
If your loved one is struggling to take the right dosages, explain the situation to the doctor and ask if there is a better system. Can they take them all at once to make it simpler? Or is there another brand that can be taken less often?
For many seniors, the struggle to remain organized with medications is an everyday problem. You’ve probably seen the infamous plastic pill boxes many seniors use. These boxes are a good idea but often fall short for people who are easily confused. Many pill boxes aren’t clearly labeled, and its’ still easy to forget if you’ve already taken a dosage.
One option for effectively managing medications is creating a medication routine. If the pills need to be taken three times a day, suggest your dad take one with breakfast, lunch and dinner. Combining habits is a helpful way to remember. Make sure to check with their doctor first.
You can also do something as simple as marking it on a calendar or logging it on a mobile app. There are also alarms on phones, computers and watches that indicate when it’s time to take medicine. Some apps and watches feature helpful information, including the name of the drug, the amount to take, and the doctor’s name for questions. These may not be good fit for someone who struggles with technology or is frightened by beeping or loud sounds. If it leads to more stress, it’s not a good solution.
One of the more helpful and affordable solutions is asking for medication blister packs. Talk to your pharmacist about the situation and request that your mom’s weekly medicines be sealed in blister packs. You have probably seen these before; they are the metallic-looking packs that antibiotics arrive in. Caregivers can also purchase blister pack kits to sort and pack themselves. The labels are usually clearer, and the empty space of a taken dose is an effective visual it’s already been completed.
If your loved one is still struggling with the usual options, it’s time to get more help. After all, their safety is the goal. A medication reminder service may be a good option for you. MyMedChecks is a program of the senior housing referral company CarePatrol and offers a free 30-day trial. You don’t need to use a credit card to sign up. After the trial, continued use of one call per day costs $19.95 per month. Two calls costs $29.95 per month, and three calls per day costs $39.95 per month. For more information, visit http://mymedchecks.com.
This information is provided by CarePatrol of Baltimore, a senior housing placement agency that serves the Baltimore city and county areas. If you or your loved one need to find a new home, consider talking to a CarePatrol housing placement specialist. They will sit down with you, assess your needs and financial situation, and offer the best options they can find. They are also available for tours and guidance during your final search. You can contact a specialist at (410) 844-0800, CarePatrolBaltimore@CarePatrol.com or www.carepatrolbaltimore.com. You can also find them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/CarePatrolBaltimore.
Remember when people used to die at reasonable ages? My mother made sure my grandmother took all of her pills, a mountain of them, as prescribed from age 86 to 96. And she made sure my grandmother eat meals, too. Pills and food sure can keep a body alive, but the quality of life? That was a whole other thing. Let’s agree that 90 is NOT the new 30! I hope not to have to take a mountain of pills. If I do, I hope I’ll get it wrong most of the time and expire at a reasonable age, prior to asking what day and time it is 50 or 60 times a day, sitting in a chair slowly dying for 10 years “thanks” to pharmaceuticals and well-meaning daughter-in-law, or anybody who makes sure the pills are taken as prescribed.
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