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How to Manage Mom’s and Dad’s Medications

Medications can be real lifesavers when taken in the proper doses and at the proper times. This is especially true for prescription medications meant to treat specific symptoms for specific individuals. However, they can turn on you if you take them in the wrong doses, at the wrong times, or don’t take them at all. This is a danger for older adults who may be taking multiple medications and may have memory issues.

If you find yourself or a loved one in a situation where medication schedules are confusing, it’s time to look into some products and services that can keep you on track. The keys to success are organization and reminders. Once you know what needs to be taken when and in what dose, the next step is to make sure you are reminded about those requirements.

A simple first step is to make a list of the medications, their dosage, and when (and how) they are to be taken. Do they need to be cut in half? Should they be taken with food or water? What if you miss one? Is Mom or Dad taking non-prescription pills, like low dose aspirin or vitamins that could interact with prescription meds? These are all important details that should be noted and followed and referred to often. These facts can also come in handy in an emergency or during a medical visit.

The practical solutions for remembering range from simple plastic to smart phones. There is always the weekly pill organizer that is commonly found in pharmacies and other stores. It is a simple container with a compartment for each day of the week and a snap-shut lid for each. You simply put each day’s pill(s) in each compartment. Some models have AM and PM compartments, and even more for other time periods. If you are a caregiver, you can easily refill the holders each week, and can tell if anything has been missed or taken the wrong days. Of course, this method will not work for topical ointments, drops, etc.

Another low-tech option is to see if the meds can be packaged in labeled single-dose packets. Ask your pharmacist or look online.

Smartphone users can purchase “smart” pill boxes that will call to remind you to take your meds, and will even notify family or caregivers if someone misses their dose. Some products can be purchased, others require monthly subscriptions. Some examples are Tricella, PillDrill, and MedMinder.

There are also apps for smartphones that will send reminders to take the meds as well as reminders to refill prescriptions. If a smartphone is not an option, calling services, such as Care Call Reassurance, will call Mom or Dad at appointed times, and will also notify a designated contact if they don’t answer the phone at the scheduled time.

Given the importance of meds management and the variety of available options, you should have no problem keeping track of Mom’s or Dad’s (or your!) medicines!

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