Medication Management for Seniors & Why It’s So Important

September 4, 2020

Does your aging parent or grandparent have a cupboard shelf set aside for medication? As the prescriptions stack up, medication management becomes more challenging for the patient and their caregivers. Not only do you need to keep track of dosages, but you also need to know when it’s time for a refill.

An organized system is critical to keep your loved one safe and healthy. When you are implementing new processes for medication management, you need to keep a few important goals in mind:

  • Maintain a medication inventory
  • Track and update medication schedules
  • Talk to doctors about side effects
  • Set reminders for timing and dosages of each medication

Setting up medication management for seniors can take a bit of work. But it’s worth the effort to implement processes that protect your loved one.

What is Medication Management?

Medication management is a method of organizing prescription medications to ensure a patient is taking the right dosages at the right time. This system also tracks the results of medication usage to determine the effectiveness of their desired therapeutic outcome.

While medication management typically focuses on prescription drugs, it’s also important to evaluate how over-the-counter dosages interact as well. A doctor can provide recommendations for ongoing medication use. Then, the patient, family, and caregivers should have a medication management plan in place to implement these recommendations.

Why is Medication Management Important?

Medication management affects a patient’s overall health by helping patient meet their healthcare goals. Proper use of these medications reduces side effects, decreases risk for the patient, and helps to minimize the possibility of drug interactions.

According to several studies by the JAMA Internal Medicine and NIH, approximately 80% of aging adults use a minimum of two prescription medications regularly. 36% of the senior population uses five or more prescriptions. The more medications a person is using, the higher the risk of complications and interactions – which is why it’s important to implement effective medication management strategies.  

7 Medication Management Tips for Seniors                              

Setting up a medication management system doesn’t have to be complicated. Instead, consider these medication management tips to find the solutions that will work best for your needs:

  1. Choose a Central Location: If prescription bottles are scattered from the bathroom to the kitchen, it can be hard to find the right medication when it’s needed. Start by dedicating a specific place in the house for all prescriptions and over the counter medications. For example, clear a shelf in the kitchen cupboard that is easy for adults to access, but out of reach from children in the house. Consider placing all the bottles in a clear plastic storage container, with a separate container for medications that are only used occasionally.
  2. Keep the Original Packaging: It’s best to keep medications in their original packaging so you can see the dosage instructions, expiration date, and product information. Check the labels to see if specific storage is required, such as refrigeration.
  3. Create a Medication List: Compiling a list of medications gives you a quick-reference sheet to know essential information such as names of the medication, how often it is taken, dosage amount, the prescribing doctor, and the purpose of the medication.
  4. Double Check Possible Interactions: You can find online tools to check for drug interactions. It’s also a good idea to talk to the patient’s doctor or pharmacist about the comprehensive list of medications. If any interactions are found, then adjustments can be made in the medication schedule to protect the patient’s health.
  5. Sort Daily and Weekly Doses: Invest in a pillbox labeled with the days of the week. If the person takes multiple doses each day, you might need a container with up to 28 compartments – allowing for four doses per day for the entire week. At the beginning of the week, pre-sort the medications so they are ready to go. If needed, split pills during this sorting time so the patient doesn’t need to fumble with a pill cutter throughout the day.
  6. Set Up Reminders and a Tracking System: A tracking log is essential to know if the patient has taken the correct medications at the right times. Additionally, reminder notifications ensure that the person remembers when it’s time to take the next dose. It’s helpful to use a digital platform for all family members and caregivers to share. Pillar offers a streamlined medication management system. Use this simple app to personalize your loved one’s medication schedule digitally.
  7. Update Medication Management as Needed: It’s inevitable that prescription changes will happen as the patient’s health changes. Be proactive in updating this medication management system regularly as needed.

These medication management tips are just a piece of the bigger system needed to organize your family life. You also must consider other life decisions such as comparing assisted living vs nursing home, implementing an important documents organizer, and selecting the right types of trusts. Pillar provides a platform that simplifies the process of navigating end-of-life care – giving family members and caregivers the support needed during this important time of life.

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