Medication Management for Safe Home Use
Often, it’s a situation involving medication mistakes which bring a senior to an emergency room or to a doctor’s office. Sometimes, it’s those unexplained complaints about aches and pains that cause a caregiver to realize that he or she needs to be more involved and informed about the medications that a loved one is taking. If the elderly senior is depressed, underweight or very overweight, suffers from dementia, or has hearing, vision, and cognitive problems, then caregivers should know that medication management is very important to the loved one’s health now and in the future.
An informed patient and caregiver are essential in the proper administration of medicines at home.
Start with the pharmacy. Ask your loved one if he is visiting more than one pharmacy to get prescriptions. If so, this can cause confusion. It’s best to choose one pharmacy and transfer all medications there. This will simplify the medication management and help address the side effects and interactions. The pharmacist can also consult with your doctor about medication concerns on your behalf.
Now gather all the medicines your loved one takes. Check the medications currently being prescribed for your loved one. Make sure you can clearly identify the date, prescribing doctor, dosage and what condition this medicine treats. Look for the instructions on how to use and possible side effects for each medicine.
If you don’t find this information clearly written on the label or enclosed directions, then call the pharmacy and ask for help. The pharmacist can also address interactions between drugs, including “over the counter” medications.
Make a List
You should make a comprehensive list of the medications that your loved one is taking. It should include the drug, dosage and the frequency of each medication. Include vitamins, supplements and herbs they take. Often, the patient will know their pills by only the color or shape, not by name. Keep this list where it is available to all caregivers and visible to emergency personnel. Keep a copy to take to the doctor’s office whenever you visit.
Medical Information Access
Because of HIPPA privacy rules, access to medical information about your loved one may be restricted. If all parties are agreeable, obtain a waiver for medical information. The HIPAA Waiver of Authorization allows doctors to provide information on a patient’s health to third parties, such as researchers, attorneys, other doctors or family members. Physicians will have the form.
The National Council on Patient Information and Education has an excellent educational programs for Seniors.
You can find a very useful page there for medication management titled “Make Notes and Take Notes to avoid Medication Errors”. Take this page to the next doctor’s appointment to guide the conversation about medicines. Offer a copy to your doctor. He would probably like to share it with other patients and caregivers.
Post a copy of the page “10 steps to success: Managing your medicines” on the fridge or cabinet at home.
Fortunately, caregivers have help available from pharmacists, nurses, and doctors to help them keep up with the important task of managing medications for the people they love. Use the MUST articles and handouts to help you.