One of the most pressing issues for part-time or long distance caregivers, is medication safety. How can you be certain that your loved one is taking her or his medications properly? Here are some tips on medication safety.
Your first step is a brown bag autopsy. This isn’t as grim as it sounds. You put everything your loved one is taking (prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs, all vitamins and supplements) into a brown bag and take it to her or his primary physician or a licensed pharmacist for analysis. You want to be sure that there will be no adverse reactions among the various items.
Once you’re confident that what she or he is taking is all going to work together beneficially, then you want to be sure that the pills are being taken at the right time and in the right amount.
One way to do this is to personally observe how your loved one takes her or his meds during the day and at night time. Is she or he able to sort through the complexities without mishap? If so, then you can relax about medication safety, for now.
However, if there’s any level of confusion about what’s to be taken when, then you may want to consider creating a chart to assist them. On it you’ll need one more column than the number of medications and supplements. That first column should be a time schedule that lists the time when each medication is to be taken. Each successive column should have the name of the medication or supplement and its purpose. Opposite the time in the first column that the med is to be taken, make a note about how it’s to be taken—with food, an hour before eating, etc. Also list any warnings about causing drowsiness, nausea, etc.
If the chart is too confusing for your loved one, then you’ll need to implement a daily pill dispenser. Each container in the dispenser is labeled with the time and instructions. “Take the pill in this box at lunch time, etc.” Pill dispensers can also be found that have automatic reminders and specific pill dispensing abilities. In addition, these high-tech dispensers can also alert you if your love one has not taken their medication.
If a pill dispenser proves to be too confusing, then you’ll need to consider in-home care or professional medication management for your loved one so that someone is on hand when medications are taken to ensure that the right pill gets taken in the right amount at the right time.
One of the most common reasons that elderly people are hospitalized is adverse drug reactions from taking medications and supplements improperly. Protect your loved ones from this emergency by assuring they are provided with the tools to take their medications safely.