What Is Medication Management, and Why Does It Matter?
As people age, it’s probable they’ll need to start taking a variety of medications to help with various illnesses or ailments. In fact, some research shows roughly 87% of seniors take at least one form of prescription medication, while 36% take five prescription medications or more. With numbers like that, it’s easy to see why proper medication management is so important for both seniors and caregivers.
When multiple medications are needed, especially for seniors in assisted living, extra attention to detail is a must. Keeping track of which medication does what and when each one needs to be taken can be a daunting effort. The risks of overmedication or adverse side effects are very real. Smart planning is key, so keep reading for medication management tips to keep in mind before visiting the doctor and after the prescriptions have been filled.
BEFORE BEGINNING MEDICATION:
Do Your Homework
For those taking multiple prescription medications, two questions will inevitably come to mind: “Why are these needed?” and “What do they do?” When first speaking with a doctor or health care provider, read about what they’re recommending and ask as many questions as necessary to make sure the reasons for, and intended results of, every single medication are crystal clear. The better you and/or your loved one understands the medication, the better equipped everyone will be for any related situation, good or bad, going forward.
Find One Pharmacy and Stick with It
It’s common for seniors to see multiple doctors and health care specialists and for each one of them to prescribe a different medication. But that doesn’t mean it’s necessary to use whichever pharmacy is closest to each office. Consistency is key to medication management for seniors and caregivers. Using one trusted pharmacy keeps all the records in one safe place. The pharmacist can then get to know which medications are needed and regularly monitor the recommended dosages, reducing any potential risks.
Keep Communication Open
Let the doctor know if issues have arisen in the past due to complications with medications. Family history can also reveal a lot about whether certain prescriptions are the right option. Both the doctor and pharmacist will take all information into account. Clearly communicating about the possible side effects and drug interactions can also help you or your loved one notice signs of any health changes that take place going forward. If anything concerning does happen, having that open line of communication makes it much easier to reach the doctor and find a solution quickly.
Always Ask Questions
If any questions come to mind when speaking with the doctor or pharmacist, make sure to ask them. Getting answers upfront can help keep everyone informed about potential side effects, appropriate dosage, proper storage and correct methods for taking all the medication. It’s also smart to ask about the duration for taking each prescribed medicine. Consult with the doctor or pharmacist before stopping anything.
After the Prescription Has Been Filled:
Read Every Word
It’s always important to follow the doctor’s every instruction, and it’s equally important to read everything that comes with the medication they prescribe. Not only does it minimize the risk of negative drug interactions and side effects; it also combats the drug losing effectiveness. The literature that’s packaged with the medication will help make clear which medications are safe to take at the same time and which need to be spaced out to prevent negative side effects. Some medications need to be taken on a full stomach while others need an empty stomach.
Keep a Consistent Record
For both seniors and caregivers, remembering the names of every medication and what each one does is hard work. But it can be made easier with detailed recording. If you are a caretaker, ask your loved one about how often they take over-the-counter drugs like aspirin and allergy medications, as well as vitamins or supplements. Bring the list to every doctor’s appointment. Responsible doctors will check the list thoroughly before prescribing new medications.
Organize for Every Day
Whether they’re for you or your loved one, pill organizers could quickly become your best friend. Not only can they separate every pill that’s needed for every day, but some even come with an alarm clock function to avoid missing any doses. Beyond that, it’s a good idea to keep either a printed schedule in large font or download an app that can keep track of what is needed and when. The key to organization is developing a routine. Turn the daily task of medication management into a habit that’s hard to break.
Always Plan Ahead
If you or your loved one is prescribed a medication long term, the last thing you want to do is wait until the last minute to get it refilled. A single missed dose could have a significant impact. To prevent this, ask the doctors to prescribe a 90-day supply, if it’s necessary. Many pharmacies offer automatic refills and will notify you when the prescription is ready to be picked up, or some may even be able to deliver the medication to a patient’s door.
Caregiver medication management is a vital part of assisted living at Paddock Ridge in Ocala, FL. It’s one of the daily living tasks that simply require a little extra help for some people. If you think you or your loved one could benefit from assistance, consider a studio or one-bedroom apartment in one of our two new neighborhoods.