Experts say that over 80 percent of seniors take at least one prescription medication every day. Of those seniors, half also frequently use supplements and other over-the-counter meds. With so many seniors taking medications and supplements, it’s no wonder that nearly a quarter of all seniors will experience some kind of drug interaction complication.
Home health providers face a number of challenges when it comes to helping their clients and loved ones keep their medications straight. A number of seniors forget to take their medications, take the wrong dose, or take their medications at the wrong time of day. This can have major negative effects, so helping seniors organize their medications should be a top priority for caregivers.
Tips for Organizing Senior Meds:
- Invest in a medication reminder organizer. Most of these plastic containers contain seven different compartments for organizing medications—one for each day of the week. If you can’t find a container that lets you divide medications by time of day, considering buying a separate unite for morning, noon, and night, or however frequently your senior needs to take medications.
- Make a medication dosage chart. You can create one by hand or use a computer spreadsheet to help keep track of medications and supplements. Make sure you list each medication, the times each should be taken, and the number of pills to take with each dose. Then leave a space next to each dosage time to check off when the medication has been taken.
- Make a medication master list. As the caregiver it can be helpful for you to create a master list of all the medications your client currently takes. Include the name of the medicine, the dosage, the dosing frequency, and the possible side effects on the list. This can be a handy guide for keeping track of interactions and negative side effects when new medications are added to the daily regimen.
- Set a reminder to check prescription labels. By checking the labels frequently, you can make sure that old and expired medications are discarded. You will also be able to notify the pharmacist ahead of time when a prescription needs to be refilled. That way your client won’t have to skip doses while waiting on refills.
- Fill all prescriptions with the same pharmacy. This helps you in a couple of ways. First, it is more convenient to deal with a single pharmacy than to try to remember picking up prescriptions at multiple locations. Second, the pharmacist will have a list of all the medications the patient is currently taking and will be better prepared to catch potentially harmful drug interactions before they happen.
- Remember that supplements can be dangerous too. Many vitamins and other supplements that can be purchased over-the-counter can interact negatively with prescriptions. For instance, St. John’s Wort is known to lower the efficacy of many drugs, and magnesium supplements can be harmful when used with certain cancer drugs.