5 Tips to Safely Manage Medications
Medication management often feels like a high-stakes balancing act. With multiple visits to doctors and specialists, a variety of dosage instructions, and refill schedules that vary from prescription to prescription, it’s a challenge to keep medications organized.
It’s no surprise that many older adults struggle to keep track of their medications.
According to a 2019 survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation, the majority of adults 65 and older (54 percent) report taking four or more prescription drugs.
While many older adults want to remain independent and manage their own medications without a plan, they are putting themselves at risk. Medication mismanagement is among the most serious health threats facing seniors. Mistakes can often lead to severe drug interactions or forced placement into a long-term care facility.
Having the right plan in place to safely manage prescription and over-the-counter drugs can help alleviate the potential hazards of medication management. To help avoid the pitfalls of medication misuse, consider the following tips from Home Instead Senior Care:
* Create a master list. It can be easy to lose track of all your prescriptions and supplements, when they should be taken and how often. Keep a list of all current prescription medications, over-the-counter medications and any vitamins or herbal supplements you are taking. Share the list with all health professionals involved in your care.
* Enlist a loved one. A second set of ears and eyes can help you remember everything you intended to discuss during a doctor’s appointment, including the prescriptions you are taking and why. At home, consider asking a friend or loved one to help you stick to a daily routine.
* Stay organized. A variety of prescriptions and dosages can make it difficult to stay on track. Establish a safe system or regimen to manage your medications. Use organizers, such as pill boxes or printed trackers. Consider signing up for a pharmacy service such as Simple Meds, which automatically organizes and sorts your medications, packaging each dose into clearly labeled packets that are mailed to you each month.
* Designate a physician gatekeeper. It’s typical to see multiple doctors for various health needs. While many assume doctors talk to one another, that isn’t always the case. To minimize the potential for error or miscommunication, identify a single provider to manage medications and monitor your overall health.
* Watch for red flags. Changes in mood or side effects such as weight gain, insomnia and constipation are examples of things that may indicate medications are adversely interacting with one another. A full pill bottle may indicate missed dosages. If you have any concerns or questions regarding a prescription or your ability to successfully manage your medications, reach out to your pharmacist or health provider.