Medication management becomes more complex for many people as they age. Chronic diseases, health complications, and even supplements to assist us with maintaining a healthy lifestyle can mean many people take lots of pills throughout the day. As a family caregiver, you have a big job if you are involved in managing the details of each medication your loved one takes. You need to know important details about each medicine, like what time of day it should be taken, whether it should be taken with food, whether there are foods that cannot be eaten while taking it, and when a refill is needed. Furthermore, your loved one’s medical team needs to know every single medication s/he takes, even if it is only taken when needed, like seasonal allergy medications. Click here for more information on how to keep your health team informed of the medications your loved one takes.
When older people experience a hospitalization for an illness or surgical intervention it is critically important to keep their medication schedule on track. This is not easily accomplished in the hospital or a rehab facility and may require not only your input but also your strong insistence that meds are taken according to doctor’s orders. This happened when my brother-in-law was hospitalized after a fall. He has Parkinson’s Disease, and the hospitalist had him on less than a third of the dosage his primary physician had prescribed for the medicine that managed his tremors. He couldn’t even do the required therapy exercises to fully recover until my sister intervened and insisted that his medication be increased dramatically. Don’t be afraid to speak up for those you provide care for. You might be the only voice advocating for them!
If your loved one is on several medications that are taken at various times of the day, a pill organizer system is very helpful to keep these on schedule. Following directions on when and how medicine should be taken can make a world of difference in how your loved one feels and how effective the medicine is in improving his or her quality of life. It can also mean the difference between continuing to recover at home and returning to the hospital or rehab due to a relapse in physical condition. Home Instead did a webinar on this subject. Here’s the link to that resource.
When you are managing a loved one’s medications, don’t forget to manage your own as well. Keeping you healthy is the best way to help others in your life! We hope you’ll join us this week here at Heart of the Caregiver and share your heart about solving the mystery of medication management.