Did you know that, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), 40% of people ages 65+ take five or more prescribed medications, and 55% of seniors take their medicine incorrectly? WIth these kind of statistics, it is important that seniors know how to properly manage their medications. To help out, we’ve compiled a few steps you can take in order to help your loved one with medication management.
Know your medications. The first step to medication management is knowing what your are taking and why. Keep an updated list of your medications, including:
Make sure to keep this list updated as your medications change, and don’t be afraid to bring it with you to doctor appointments to double check your dosage. This list should be used not just for prescription medications, but over-the-counter ones as well. It’s also a good idea to keep a copy on you at all times, along with your doctor’s name and phone number.
Stay organized. Get a pillbox that best suits your needs. There are pillboxes that you can fill one day at a time, but using these requires that you remember to fill it up each day and also remember if you have taken the pills for that day or not. The next step up is the weekly pillbox that has compartments for each day of the week, or even for a month. This type is helpful, but can be difficult if you have to take medicines at different points of the day. If you really like to stay organized, there are pillboxes available that have multiple compartments that allow for organization of medications by the time of day they should be taken, as well as being separated by days in the week.
Set a schedule. Set a recurring alarm on your phone to help remind you when to take your medication or write it down in your calendar. Know when you need to get refills and do it ahead of time so you never run out. Many pharmacies have auto-refill options that you can choose to opt into as well.
Running out of medication could cause a problem in your schedule, and it is never a good idea to stop taking a prescription without your doctor’s recommendation. Also, throw away any expired medication, because over time, medications break down and become less effective.
Be safe. Keep medications out of reach of children and animals. Do not store medications in bathroom medicine cabinets because the moisture will cause them to break down more quickly. The best place to store medication is somewhere that you can easily see, but that is cool, dry, and dark. This may be in your kitchen or bedroom in a place that is easily accessible. Don’t take any more or less than the prescribed amount. Keep an emergency list nearby and know who to call in the case of a bad reaction or an accidental overdose.
Taking medication can be complicated, but there are some great ways to simplify the process! Follow our tips above for your own personal medication management, and use others around you to help keep you on-track and accountable. See if your doctor or pharmacy will send notifications when it is time for a check-up or a refill. Meet with a family member or a friend for a fun lunch, with a quick stop to the pharmacy. It doesn’t matter exactly how you manage your medications as long as you do it, and you find the way that works best for you!