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Medication Management for Seniors

medication management

Medication Management Strategies for Safe Home Use

Often, it’s a situation involving medication mistakes which brings a senior to an emergency room or to a doctor’s office. Sometimes, it’s those unexplained complaints about aches and pains from the patient that cause a caregiver to realize that he  should  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 realize 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.

Medicine Cabinet
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.

Learn more about Managing 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.

You can find a template for making a list of medications at the AARP website.   “My Personal Medication Record”  is available in English and Spanish.  Fill the pages out for the patient on a paper copy.

Post a current  copy of the page on the fridge or cabinet at home.  Keep a current copy in the patient’s purse or billfold so it is handy at the doctor’s office or pharmacy.   Making  a medication list  visible to emergency responders in a home emergency is important.

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.

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.  Managing medications  efficiently can help patients stay safe and healthy at home.

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