Tips and Tools for Managing your Medications
Managing multiple medications, both prescription and over the counter, is challenging at any age. The good news is there are services that can help you coordinate with multiple physicians or manage your refills. Our experts are available to help you find a solution that fits your lifestyle.
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Services to Help You Manage Medications
SelectRx provides personalized medication packets and automatic free in-home delivery, which helps ensure you never miss a dose and that your prescriptions are taken accurately together. You’ll receive an in-depth medication consultation at the start of services and ongoing check-ins after that.
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Tips to Help Avoid Medication Mistakes
Nearly 20 percent of older adults who are taking five or more prescription medications reported challenges in managing their medication regimen, according to a survey by Home Instead, the world’s largest home care franchise network. Here are some suggestions to help minimize the risk of medication mistakes from Dr. Jane Potter, geriatrician and director of the Home Instead Center for Successful Aging at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.
Get a pill organization system or service
It’s easy to become confused about the medications your doctors have prescribed and when they should be taken. There are a variety of self-fill pill boxes that can help you organize your meds by day and time, and make it easy to see whether you’ve taken your meds for the day. SelectRx takes that one step further by organizing medications in single serving packets labeled with the date and time they should be taken, eliminating the need to fill the boxes yourself.
Make one doctor the gatekeeper to manage medications
It’s typical for an older adult to have multiple doctors. Dr. Potter suggests that you designate a primary doctor as your medication gatekeeper. Most people assume that doctors talk to one another, but that may not be the case. It’s best to keep a list of all of your doctors and who is managing which meds, and update the list at least annually or whenever your medication regimen changes.
“Bring to doctor appointments the actual medication bottles along with bottles of over the counter drugs you’re taking so the doctor can cross check those at each visit,” Dr. Potter recommends. Medication tracker worksheets, where you can record all the necessary information, can help as well.
Know why the medication was prescribed and its potential side effects
What specific condition(s) or symptom(s) was the medication prescribed to help alleviate? Verify with the pharmacist that the medication being given is what the doctor prescribed. Double check with the pharmacist to make sure the medication won’t interact with any other prescriptions or over the counter medicines you’re taking. Make sure you’re aware of all potential side effects so you can alert your doctor if you experience any.
Call the doctor if you notice changes in how you’re thinking, feeling, or looking
Many people can sense when they feel different, especially right after a change in their medication. But you could also develop a reaction after years on the same medication. Be sure to bring these issues to the attention of a healthcare provider.
Maintain a regular appointment schedule with your health care providers
Keep regularly scheduled appointments and maintain open communication with your doctors to help avoid medication problems. Consider writing down questions in advance so you remember everything you intended to discuss during an appointment. If cost of medications is a concern, let your doctor and pharmacist know. Generic options can be cheaper and some pharmaceutical companies offer discounts.
Discuss any challenges in taking a medication, such as trouble swallowing it, or opening a pill bottle
Solutions exist for some medication challenges. Reach out to your doctor or pharmacist to discuss these issues. Pharmacists are often more accessible than your doctor and can answer these types of questions and general concerns. For instance, your pharmacist may be able to reach out to your doctor and request that they prescribe a liquid as an alternative to pills. What’s more, you can ask your pharmacist for easy-open pill bottles as an alternative to those with child-proof caps.
Consider a professional caregiver
If you could use additional support around the home, like housekeeping, cooking, transportation, etc. consider hiring a professional caregiver. In addition to assisting with these activities of daily living, caregivers can also remind you when it’s time to take your medication. Check out our home care page to learn more.