July 3rd, 2013 at 10:00 am
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Tips on orchestrating elders’ medications

by Dorian Martin

I recently had to take over the management of Dad’s medications when he wasn’t feeling well. That proved to be quite a lesson since he takes about seven pills in the morning and five more in the evening, as well as changing his pain patch every other day. It’s made me a lot more aware of the potential for medication mistakes.

That’s why I wanted to share some information that was in a flyer at the office of my father’s doctor — and my thanks to the doctor for providing it. It offers some great tips on making sure an elder takes prescribed medications properly.

8 Drug Do’s

The doctor’s office also suggested several things for caregivers and/or elders taking medications, for example:

  1. Be sure to follow the directions on all medications.
  2. Take (or administer) each medication exactly as it has been prescribed.
  3. Make sure that each doctor that the elder sees knows about all medications the elder is taking.
  4. Tell each doctor about any over-the-counter medications, vitamins, supplements or herbs that the elder uses.
  5. Try to use the same pharmacy to fill all prescriptions so that they can help track everything that the elder is taking.
  6. Check medication directions each time a prescription is refilled. The information on the medication guide may have changed between refills.
  7. Store the elder’s medications safely and securely out of the reach of children, pets and household members.
  8. Dispose of unneeded medications properly.

9 Drug Dont’s

  1. Do not change the elder’s medication dose or schedule without consulting the elder’s doctor.
  2. Don’t skip, or for caregivers, make sure the elder does not skip taking medications.
  3. Don’t take extra doses, or for caregivers, make sure the elder does not take more than the suggested dose.
  4. Do not share medications.
  5. Do not let the elder take medications in the dark since it is very easy to make a mistake when the medications can’t be seen clearly.
  6. Do not use medication that has been prescribed for someone else.
  7. Do not crush or break pills unless the elder’s doctor instructs you to do so.
  8. Do not use medications that have passed the expiration date.
  9. Do not store the elder’s medications in locations that are either too hot or too cold. For example, a bathroom cabinet may not be the best place to store some medications

Being aware of these suggestions can help caregivers and seniors who are taking various medications, and these procedures might help you avoid an unexpected consequence. Another blog post discusses the risks of prescription mistakes, especially after discharge from a hospital stay, and the importance of checking on potential drug interactions.

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