Managing Medicines for Safety and Convenience.
Part of being a caregiver for someone can mean managing medicines. What to take, when to take it, and how much to take are the details which make a difference, sometimes a very big difference, in both the caregiver’s life and the patient’s life.
My family and I were caregivers for our elderly parents. The amount of medicines each were prescribed was sometimes a challenge to track. Some medicines were taken for a short time, and then discontinued. Other prescriptions were meant to be taken indefinitely. There were times when a parent would have so many different medical issues that, when it was time to take medications, it became an “event” because there were so many to swallow.
Through our years of caregiving, we developed our own methods for managing medications. The following tips are things that worked for us. Maybe they can help you develop your own plan.
Keep a List
- Keep an up-dated list of all medications, including prescription medications, over-the-counter products, and any other supplements taken. Your pharmacy can help you get a printed page listing all the prescription medications. You will need to write down the names and dosages of any other over-the counter medicines, vitamins, etc. that the patient takes regularly. Keep this list in a wallet, purse, or tote bag so that when you go to a physician’s office, you will have that information on hand.
Organize Your Inventory
- Keep the labels on the bottles. Keep all the medicines together in a safe, protected place. Some may need to be refrigerated. Keep medicines out of the reach of children at all times. Read and keep the information that comes with each medicine to determine the proper storage place. Call your pharmacist or physician with any questions.
Keep a Record
- Keep a written record of what’s happening when the patient takes a medication. A patient may need to try out a medication to see how effective it is or if there are intolerable side-effects. The record can help you and your doctor see if a medication may be causing side-effects or if it is effective for this patient. For example, if the patient always feels nauseous or has constipation after a particular medication, note that, and then share that information with your physician. It’s good to write this down, because the details are sometimes forgotten during busy days. We used a spiral notebook kept at the bedside for this purpose.
Use a Pill Box Organizer
- A pill organizer box will help you keep on schedule with medicines. This is helpful to both the caregiver and the patient. If you are a forgetful or busy patient and you give yourself your own medicines, a pill organizer is a good reminder and good way to check to see what you have taken and when. A family caregiver or a home health care nurse can help you put your medications inside a pill organizer box on a weekly basis, if you need help.
Use One Pharmacy
- Use just one pharmacy for all your prescriptions. The pharmacist will have a record of all prescriptions and their details, and can then check for dangerous drug interactions and possible side-effects. The pharmacist can communicate with you and your physician should they detect any problems with a prescription even before the patient receives the medication. The pharmacist will work with your doctor’s office to maintain refills of prescriptions. Pharmacists are also able to answer your questions about taking your medications when they have a complete list available to them. Pharmacists can help you know whether you can take a particular medication with or without water, or with or without food. Sometimes, they can even change the flavor of liquid medications, so that they don’t taste quite so bad.
Managing medicines is very important for the well-being of the patient, and that certainly affects the well-being of a caregiver as well. One of the most important tasks of a caregiver is to understand the purpose of each medication, how to use each one correctly, and where to get answers to questions or problems. This is a task that is too important to approach carelessly. A plan for managing medicines will give you organization and control, and that brings peace of mind.
Any thoughts? Your suggestions are welcome.