8 Tips For Safer Elderly Medication Management

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pile of pills

As we age, we are prone to need to take a different medication for multiple illnesses, pains or diseases.

A few ailments can add up to taking and keeping track of multiple pills a day.

On average, people over 65 can take up to 18 pills a day.

This makes elderly medication management extremely important to avoid unintentional misuse or being improperly medicated.

Without proper tracking, adverse reactions can happen alongside dangerous side effects and major complications.

Many seniors feel they do not need a medication management system but end up forgetting doses, taking pills at the wrong time or unintentionally taking more than the recommended dosage.

Learn from  Our Senior Safety how to protect yourself by forming a solid medication plan.

Keep a List of Up to Date Medications You’re Taking

This list should include what you’re taking the medication for, dosage amount and when it’s taken.

This is a list that should be brought with you to every doctor’s appointment so the doctor can make sure any new medication prescribed will not interfere with the current regimen.

Don’t forget to include any over the counter medications, vitamins, herbs or supplements.  These can also cause issues with prescribed medication.

It’s important to update the doctor on any changes in medical history such as new allergies, symptoms or any changes since your last visit.

Your medication regimen should be reviewed with your doctor at least once per year.

A great rule of thumb is if you are unsure whether or not you should tell your doctor about something, always mention it.

For proactive elderly medication management, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

The more your doctor knows about your health the better.

Read Labels Carefully

Take note at the times and days you’re supposed to take the medication and if it’s best to take it with food. You don’t want an upset stomach by not following instructions that lead to vomiting up the medication from a queasy stomach.

Pay close attention to statements such as if the medication can be taken if you’d had alcohol to drink or if it’s safe to drive.

Look at the temperate the medication is supposed to be stored at.

Should it be refrigerated or is it ok to be left out on the counter?

Some medications might not need to be refrigerated but are required to be kept at a temperature no higher than 77 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you like to keep your house above this temperature, double check this isn’t affecting the medication you’re taking.

Ask Your Doctor About Possible Side Effects 

Before taking a new medication it’s important to understand possible side effects which may occur. Some seniors are prone to side effects more than others but regardless, it’s important to know what to watch out for.

Even if you decide the risks are low or the side effects aren’t enough to not take a certain medication for a condition you’re suffering from, don’t dismiss changes in your health.

If you’re experiencing any change in behavior after deciding to take the new medication such as depression, memory issues, changes in eating habits, irritability, changes in sleeping habits or anything out of the ordinary, it’s best to speak to a doctor as soon as possible about the changes.

Note Changes in Weight

Have you lost or gained weight recently? Some medication have doses based on weight and if you’ve had a major recent fluctuation in weight it’s important to report this to a doctor.

If the dosage is based on the weight you could be taking too much or too little which could cause major complications in your health.

Get a Medication Management App

Medication management apps help you take your medication on time and as directed. These apps allow you to set alarms, refill reminders, inform you about side effects, store photos of pills, keep track of medications you’re taking and notes for any medication.

Many of these apps are free to use and can really be a lifesaver for ideal elderly medication management. Once an alarm or reminder is set, it’s easy to select the days and times etc.

Once setup is complete, you don’t have to set it up again unless changes occur to your medication regimen.

Take advantage of these well-rated medication management apps according to Health Line:

Medisafe  – Helps with reminders, dosage, instructions, warnings. Free to download & a premium version is available without ads for $4.99 a month.

MyMedSchedule – Create & save user-friendly medication lists. You can also set up text and email reminders to remember when to any medication. Free to download.

Get a Pill Organizer

There are different varieties of pill organizers on the market which can help with not getting pills mixed up, mistakingly taking too many doses and remembering which pills have or haven’t been taken for the day.

A few examples of pill boxes are:

  • 7 day with doses separated for AM/PM
  • 7 day with doses separated into 4 different times a day
  • 31-day organizer with doses separated into 4 different times a day
  • 28-day automatic pill dispenser for those with dementia or memory issues

Throw Away Expired Medication

Go through cabinets and drawers at least once per year and throw out anything that has expired. Medication that has reached its expiration date is prone to become contaminated with bacteria and fungus.

It more than likely won’t be as effective and could cause a slew of issues.  It’s always best to throw it out and wait to get the prescription refilled if it’s needed.

Plan Ahead for Medication Refills

Once you’ve gotten down to 5-7 days of pills left it’s best to make arrangements for a refill.

Pay attention to how many refills are left of the prescription before needing to go back to the doctor to renew a prescription.

This could mean waiting to get an appointment before a new refill is granted. If you’re on your last refill, call the doctor as soon as possible to see when you can be seen as some doctors have booked schedules for weeks in advance.

If you’re going on vacation it’s also important to make sure you aren’t going to run out while you’re gone. Refill the prescription before you leave if there’s not enough for the time you will be gone.

There are many tools and tips for better elderly medication management. Try to add a few of these suggestions into your routine to see if it makes daily life easier.

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