Properly managing and taking medications is extremely important for seniors. Despite this importance, it can also be difficult to take medications regularly, remember proper dosage or recall updated instructions.
There are many reasons this crucial task can be difficult, including:
- Timing of doses
- Number of medications
- Frequent medication changes
- Medication side-effects
- Conditions that make it difficult to remember medications, like dementia or Alzheimer’s disease
- Medication taste or application types, like shots, drops or topical creams
Many caregivers struggle with knowing how and when to help their loved ones to remember and take their medications, but these medication management tips for seniors can help.
1) Fully Understand Medications and Benefits
One of the biggest reasons a senior will miss taking their medication is that they don’t truly understand the benefits of the medication, or, perhaps more importantly, the repercussions for missing doses. It is vital that seniors receive and comprehend their daily medication regimen, how each medication is helping and what will happen when medications are skipped or taken improperly.
Sit with your loved one and their health care provider to have a frank discussion about each medication and how they work together. If this conversation is difficult to schedule or to engage in, a home health social worker can often be a helpful advocate and ally.
2) Create a Daily Routine
Medication management for seniors can be made much easier with a daily routine. A routine can be as simple as always taking medications while waiting for a morning cup of coffee to brew.
Alternately, if a senior finds their daily medication regimen unpleasant (e.g. doesn’t like swallowing pills), you can help them create a positive experience for medication time. For example, they can turn on their favorite music, enjoy a well-loved snack or watch a fun show while they take their meds.
3) Find Ways to Simplify
Another big reason seniors skip or miss their medications is that medications can be difficult or unpleasant to take. Sometimes pills are too big and uncomfortable to swallow. Insulin shots can be painful, or eye drops messy and irritating.
Talk to your loved one’s health care provider to see if there are alternative ways to take medications, like splitting large pills in half or adding medications to food. You might also want to ask if there are other brands or methods of application. You’ll likely see greater compliance when a medication routine is simplified.
4) Upgraded Labels and Charts
Sometimes seniors may mix up medications or have difficulty taking them properly because the print on pill bottles is small, or instructions have been forgotten or lost. Create larger printed labels for pills or put together an easy-to-read chart your loved one can reference each day.
Include times of day for each medication and how to take them (e.g. do not take with food, drink a full glass of water). You may also want to include important numbers, like the number for the pharmacy or specialist. Keep the chart by the medications and make sure it’s easily readable and accessible. Finally, check and update the chart often!
5) Leverage Technology
There are some great apps that help to manage medications, track symptoms and even offer refill reminders. Medisafe allows seniors to track medications, set personalized reminders about medications, discover vital drug interaction warnings and set refill reminders.
For technology-savvy seniors, creating a Google spreadsheet can help to track medications. Plus, you can share this document with each person involved in your loved one’s care. You can also use an online tool like IFTTT to trigger reminders based on other connected behaviors, apps or devices.
6) Hire a Home Health Aide
Sometimes managing medications at home can grow too complex for caregivers and seniors to handle well on a daily basis. A home health aide can provide support when monitoring and remembering medications.
Medication Management for Seniors in Akron, Ohio
We offer a variety of in-home skilled nursing services and other home health care options to help seniors remember their medications. Contact us today for a home health care assessment.