8 Helpful Tips for Medication Management
Posted: 10/29/2018 10:15 AM by
Contributed by Cynthia Mitchell RN
We all know that today’s medicines can help control many common chronic diseases and lower the complications that go along with them. Medicines can play an important role in helping keep people out of the hospital. But did you know that, according to many researchers, 75% of Americans have trouble taking their medications as directed?! And according to the National Council on Patient Information and Education (NCPIE), those aged 65 years and older at a significantly higher risk for drug–drug interactions, adverse events, and medication errors.
The good news is, there's a lot you can do to help your medicines work safely and effectively.
Here are 8 helpful tips for medication management:
1. Gather all medications, vitamins, OTC meds, and supplements into one location
If they’re all stored in different locations, it’s easy to lose track of medications, vitamins, over-the-counter medications, or supplements that are being taken. By gathering and storing everything in one place, you can see exactly what is being taken, make sure similar prescriptions aren’t being prescribed for the same health condition, and dispose of expired medications.
2. Create and maintain an up-to-date medication list.
To prevent negative drug interactions, it’s so important for you and your care team to know exactly what medications you are taking. Always have an up-to-date list of your medications, vitamins, supplements, and over-the-counter medications. The FDA has created a comprehensive interactive tool called My Medicine Record, that can be printed as well!
3. Pre-sort medications for the week
Staying organized is essential to good medication management for seniors. Using a pill organizer allows you to pre-sort your medications for the week. There are tons of options for pill organizers, including many with alarms, organizers that are automatic, even ones that call family if you forget to take your medications when scheduled!
4. Double check for negative drug interactions
Many older adults are taking multiple medications, vitamins, over-the-counter medications, or supplements. It is very important to review ALL of your medications (including supplements and over the counter medications) with your doctor and your pharmacist. You may also try using an online drug interaction checker as well. And be sure to check with your doctor if you have any concerns.
5. Make sure medication instructions are clear
Understanding and following medication instructions minimizes the risk of negative drug interactions, preventable side effects, and the drug losing effectiveness. If there’s any uncertainty, don’t be afraid to ask the doctor for explanations and more detailed instructions.
6. Set up a medication reminder and tracking system
As previously mentioned, there are lots of products out there to help with medication management. Sometimes, all that’s needed is a simple paper and pen! You could create a simple chart with the medication name and dose, day, and time of day. As you take each dose, record a check mark or X.
If you need reminders, there are lots of ideas! You could set an alarm on your phone (or even use an old school alarm clock if you just have one or two doses a day). For the tech-comfortable senior, there are some great medication management apps available too! Some companies offer reminder calls, or sometimes family members are happy to help out with a quick call.
7. Plan ahead for medication refills
It’s important to get refills on time so you don’t run out and miss doses. The most convenient solution is to ask the doctor to prescribe a 90-day supply through a mail-order pharmacy. That way, the medication will be mailed, and you’ll only need to remember to re-order every few months.
Many pharmacies also offer automatic refills and will notify you when the prescription is ready to be picked up. Some pharmacies may also have prescription delivery services, so you won’t have to pick them up. Always mark the refill dates on your calendar so you’ll always remember to order a refill and pick it up before it’s needed.
8. Consider professional assistance
Sometimes, medication management can get pretty overwhelming. Not to mention, if you are really struggling with taking your medications as prescribed, it can become a serious health concern. In these situations, having a home care professional partner with you in managing your medications can be a great option! Interim HealthCare of the Capital Region offers a comprehensive Medication Management program to meet your needs! For more information, call one of our local offices! Albany: 518-452-3655 / Glens Falls: 518-798-6811
Health and Happiness to you, friends!
Interim HealthCare of the Capital Region, with offices in Albany and Glens Falls NY, is your local Homecare provider offering licensed nursing, personal care, and staffing services in Upstate NY for over 47 years.