9 Tips to Help You Safely Manage Your Medications
Healthy Aging | 04/26/21
Even if you only take two or three pills each day, which includes about 80% of all seniors, it’s easy to get off track. Did you take them on time? Did you take them at all? Now add in taking vitamins, over-the counter drugs, and the short-term meds prescribed for, say, a sinus infection. It’s a lot to think about.
Medication safety is a concern for seniors. Drug interactions can be life-threatening or cause extreme drowsiness, which can lead to falls. There are even cases of seniors skipping critical meds to avoid expensive refills. The bottom line is, managing multiple medications can be overwhelming, even more so for those with advancing memory issues.
We’ve put together nine tips to help seniors, as well as family members and other caregivers, safely manage medications while maintaining good health practices.
Better Medication Management in 9 Simple Steps
- Make a List — Carefully write down every prescription and any other pills (even vitamins) you take regularly. Include the time of day you take them, the strength, and how many you take each day. Be sure to share and update with family members and any caregivers.
- Be Scrip Savvy — Consult with your doctor and pharmacist about your medications and how to take them properly. Know the “take with or without food” rules and “morning vs. evening” recommendations. Also ask about possible food interactions. Grapefruit juice affects cholesterol drugs, for example. Milk affects antibiotics.
- Know the Side Effects — Some meds have none. Others can make you dizzy, drowsy, nauseous, etc. Know what to look for. Don’t stop a drug, though, without talking with the physician or pharmacist who prescribed it.
- Avoid Self-Prescribing — Resist the temptation to take just one more pill to feel better or skip a pill to save money or because it has side effects you don’t like. Discuss your concerns with your doctor and your family first.
- Don’t Assume Your Doctor Knows — While computer records keep better track of your medication, sometimes doctors may not read every detail. It’s up to you to keep a prescription list handy and share it at each visit … just to be safe.
- Health Changes Matter — Again, your doctor may not know everything about you. Let every doctor you see know about any changes in your health, since some changes can affect how your body responds to a drug. That includes illnesses, weight gain or loss, or other conditions.
- Ask Questions Every Time — You’re part of the medical team when it comes to your own health or that of a loved one. Be sure you ask questions to understand what a drug is and why you’re taking it, even if it’s prescribed for a temporary condition like a sinus infection. Try to have an advocate along for key appointments as an extra pair of ears.
- One Pharmacy for All — Try to fill all prescriptions through one pharmacy if possible. The computer records they keep can alert the pharmacist about potential drug interactions anytime a new drug is prescribed for you. Also, a pharmacist who knows you will be more informed about your conditions and can better answer medication questions.
- Get Organized — Excellent organizer aids are available, including electronic
pillboxes and reminder apps for your phone or tablet. It’s even possible to let a family
member dispense pills for you remotely using a smartphone. Also check into the new
prepackaged pill packs (often covered by Medicare) that organize all your pills into
conveniently marked pouches.
The team at Crestwood Manor is here to help.
Among the wonderful benefits of living at Crestwood Manor is the availability of personal care services from skilled caregivers as part of our full continuum of care. If you or your family members are concerned about safe medication management, don’t hesitate to ask us for advice and guidance. To learn more about the lifestyle and senior care services offered at our Life Plan Community, contact us today.