Proper medication management is important. With nearly one-third of adults in the United States taking more than five daily medications, errors and accidents are going to happen, and small mistakes have potentially serious consequences. Here are some steps you can take to make sure that Mom is taking her medications on time and safely.
1. Keep an Up-to-Date Medications List
If you don’t already keep a list of all of Mom’s medications and their dosages, now is the time to start one. If you already keep a list, pull it out and make sure that all of the information on it is correct and up-to-date. Your list should detail all of Mom’s current medications, their brand and generic names, dosages, dosage frequencies, and her reason for taking each drug. Keeping a list like this will help you, Mom, and all of her doctors stay on the same page with her medications. If you’re looking for an easy, fill-in-the blank medications list, try downloading SafeMedication’s My Medicine List.
2. Utilize Technology
If Mom needs more than just a list of her medications to remind her when and how much medicine she should take, consider looking into some different types of technology that have been specifically created to help with managing medications. There are many options for you and for Mom when it comes to technology. Consider some of the following:
- Electronic pill dispensers - MedMinder and HERO are small pill dispensers that store and help people manage their daily medications. These dispensers can be placed on a counter at home to allow Mom easy access to the correct dosages of her medications at the correct times.
- Smartphone apps - Medisafe can be downloaded and used as a way to notify Mom on her phone when it’s time to take her medications. This app will keep track of when she takes them, and you can have it send an alert to a family member or a caregiver if she forgets to take her medications on time.
- Companies - PillPack will organize and pre-package her medications into small packages, print a medication name, dosage, date, and time onto the packages, and then mail the packages right to Mom’s door. This type of system makes it easier for Mom to take the right medications at the right time.
3. Know Which Medications Are Unsafe for Seniors
The American Geriatric Society has created the Beers Criteria for Potentially Inappropriate Medication Use in Older Adults. This list details medications that seniors should avoid or use with caution. Some of these medications are simply less effective when used by older adults, but many of them have a higher instance of side effects in seniors. Keep an updated version of this list at your house and at Mom’s house, and check it every time Mom gets a new prescription.
4. Know Mom's Medical History
You should always be knowledgeable about all of Mom’s medical conditions, past hospital stays, surgeries, and any other major medical history that she has, but also make sure that you know if Mom has had problems with any medications in the past. If she has ever had any sort of reaction to a medication, make sure her doctor and her pharmacist know, especially before she starts any new medications.
When picking up a new prescription or administering a medication to Mom, make sure you know all of the possible side effects and drug interactions of the medications she’s currently taking. Read through the medication details on the prescription information sheet. If you notice any health changes in Mom, contact her doctor right away. Before Mom starts a new medication, always double-check her dosage, and ask the pharmacist any and all questions that you or she has about the medication.
5. Be Aware of Mom's Medication Management
Sometimes, Mom is mentally capable of tracking and taking her own medications, but maybe she’s having a little bit of trouble doing it on her own. In that situation, the medications list or any of the technologies listed above might be good ways to help her take her medications. However, if Mom has or develops Alzheimer’s or any other type of dementia, she may not be able to effectively manage her medications like she used to without help from someone who oversees her taking them. If Mom is cognitively impaired in any way, always have a family member or caregiver help when it is time for her to take her medications. Taking medications improperly is dangerous and can be fatal. If you have questions about medication management or if your loved one needs help managing their medications, it might be the right time to consider moving Mom into an assisted living community like the Cottages.