Managing medications can be one of the most challenging tasks for aging adults and their caregivers. It is a complex process and oftentimes medications and quantities change. It is critical that older adults take only the medications prescribed, exactly as prescribed and to have confirmation from their physician and pharmacist that there will not be potentially dangerous drug interactions and complications. Senior care communities have resources to help residents manage these medication needs.
Medication management is especially important for patients with multiple health care diseases and illnesses. Taking numerous medications is known as polypharmacy and is particularly common among older adults due to the prevalence of multiple medical issues. In order to avoid possible medication complications follow the tips below.
1. Make sure you set reminders
Forgetting to take prescribed medicine can affect how your body is functioning and can make one more susceptible to becoming ill. Set an alarm reminder or have a friend or family member be responsible for reminding you. Leave yourself a note, prepare a calendar and reminder system to keep track of prescription refill dates or get into the habit of taking your medicine at the same time everyday to help remember.
2. Presort pills into daily reminder boxes or other types of dispensers
For those taking multiple types of medications, there are containers organized by the day of the week. Having the days of the week labeled allows you to put the pills you need to take each day in the container so that they are all in one place and you don’t forget to take one. If you do forget, you will notice it right away.
3. Schedule frequent doctor appointments
Health care needs are constantly changing. It is possible that your symptoms have changed and you no longer need to take a particular medication. Or the prescribed medicine may not be working so you will need to find an alternate solution. As one ages it becomes increasingly important to frequently visit your doctor and health care team to address any issues you may have to keep your medication list current.
4. Make sure you know which medications to take together
It is important to make sure your doctor prescribes medications that are safe to be taken at the same time. Sometimes the dosage of multiple medications is too strong or holds too many side effects to be taken at the same time.
5. Know if you need to take foods or liquids with certain medications
Usually medications require you to take them on a full stomach; however that is not always true. When taking multiple medications you should be sure of what you need to eat or drink prior to or after taking the medication. Be sure to know if it is okay to take multiple medications at the same time or if they need to be spread out across the day.
6. Arrange for pills to be picked up from the drug store or delivered to you
Remembering to take medication is difficult enough, but it is even more important to make sure prescriptions are filled at the correct time. You don’t want to forget to fill a prescription and miss a few days of medication because of this delay. Mark your calendar to remember when to order your prescriptions.
If transportation is difficult for you, make arrangements in advance to go to the drug store, or arrange for prescriptions to be mailed directly to you. This is a great option because it is a simple phone call to get your medication delivered right to your door.
7. Watch for side effects
This is especially important when you start to take a new medication or change your medication routine. Pay close attention to any signs of dizziness, loss of sleep, feeling of weakness, upset stomach, or pain. Contact your medical professional as soon as you feel ill and make sure you inform them of the medication you are taking and what you think may be the issue.
8. Dispose of old drugs
Medications have expiration dates. Pay close attention to these because taking expired medications can cause serious side effects. Dispose of these drugs and consult your physical about getting a refill prescription if it is still necessary.
At United Methodist Homes senior living communities we understand the importance of medication management. We have multiple resources to help our residents including medication management services by our nursing staff, assistance with refilling medications, transportation to pick up prescriptions and go to doctor appointments, as well as physician relationships to foster a successful medication regimen. To learn more about our communities please visit our website www.umh.org to learn more!