According to the 2016 CDC health report, more than 42% of US residents, age 65 and over, take five or more prescription drugs per day. As a family caregiver, managing medication can be a daunting task because a missed or incorrect dose can lead to symptoms that require medical care. Here are some tips that will help you and your loved one keep track of medication and avoid problems.
Use a Pill Organizer
The simplest, most affordable way to make sure that medication gets taken when it should is to use a pill organizer. The average organizer only costs a few dollars and allows you to separate pills by days of the week. If your loved one takes a lot of pills, you can purchase one or more organizers that are broken down by day and time. You can find pill organizers at your local drug store, doctor's office pharmacy, or your favorite big-box or online retailer. If you're managing a lot of different drugs and doses, you can also use a spreadsheet or smartphone app to keep track of daily medications.
Use timer caps
If your loved one tends to be forgetful about whether or not they took a pill, try using timer caps. These affordable pill bottle caps record how long ago the bottle was opened, so it's easy to see whether the drug was taken that day. If you prefer a more comprehensive pill management product, there are also dispensers available that will sound an alarm when it is time to take pills.
Find a Good Pharmacist
Find a pharmacy you like, and always get all medications from the same place. If your pharmacist can see all the medications your loved one is on is on, it will be easier for them to identify any conflicting drugs. Doctors can miss things - so your pharmacists are the last line of defense. Also, try to get to know the pharmacy staff. Your pharmacist can be a great resource for you if you have concerns about side effects or see a change in behavior.
Disclose Any Supplement Use
It's a common misconception that supplements - vitamin or herbal - don't have any negative drug interactions because they are naturally occurring. But that's not always the case! Make sure your pharmacist knows about any supplements your loved one is taking. Disclosing all supplements reduces the risk of a drug being inadvertently prescribed that has serious interactions.
Be Aware of Behavioral Changes
Keep an eye out for any changes in your loved one's cognitive functioning. Early signs of dementia include confusion and forgetfulness, which can cause issues with daily medication management. If your loved one is on any medications for pain management, watch for symptoms of dependency as well. This includes an obsessive fear of not taking a pill, behavior changes, or trying to get extra drugs prescribed. In either case, consult a doctor if you see a significant behavioral change.
Keeping medication organized is vital to keeping your loved one healthy and in good spirits. Use this tips to simplify the process!
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