This Issue: Prescription Medication Use
Our motto at Caregiver-Aid is “Safe and Healthy at Home”, and naturally home safety is something that caregivers take seriously. The National Safety Council is spotlighting certain safety issues this month that are important for general home safety, according to research on trends in safety.
An estimated 36,900 deaths in 2012 were due to poisoning, with a large majority of these attributed to the recent epidemic of prescription medication abuse. Prescription pain relievers contribute to more deaths than all illegal drugs.
The Council reports that nationwide forty-five people die every day from unintentional overdoses on prescription pain relievers.
Here are a few suggestions to help caregivers be vigilant when it comes to prescription medication use.
Keep a Medication 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 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 organizer box.
- 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 just one pharmacy for all your prescriptions.
- Keeping all your prescriptions at one pharmacy will simplify drug interaction control. The pharmacist will have a record of all prescriptions and check for interactions and side-effects. They can answer your questions about how to take your medications to avoid problems. Sometimes, they can even change the flavor of liquid medications, so that they don’t taste quite so bad.
Certainly caregivers are very aware of the responsibility of proper using prescription medication for their loved ones, especially when a loved one is taking multiple medications and is frequently changing medications.