When it comes to wrangling all your caregiving duties, no matter what condition your loved one is in, chances are medication management falls into your basket of responsibilities. Medication management might involve:
- Administering medicine to your loved one
- Refilling prescriptions
- Communicating with the doctor (about side effects, dosing, etc)
- Handling health insurance (pre-authorizations, prescription deductibles, etc)
- Maintaining up to date medicine lists
There are a host of reasons why medicine might not get taken as prescribed each and every time, and as a caregiver, this burden mounts the more complex your loved oneâ€™s medicine schedule gets. Frequent dosing, similar sounding drug names, similar looking pills, prescriptions written by multiples doctors . . . the list of complications is seemingly endless.
If youâ€™re looking to simplify the process of medication management when it comes to improving your loved oneâ€™s care, donâ€™t miss these quick tips:
Use a Pill Organizer
Instead of accessing multiple pill bottles potentially multiple times a day to pull out the drugs your loved one needs to take at a set time, try using a pill organizer to go ahead and sort each dose out. The best pill organizers will feature color coded, easy to read tabs that are organized by time pegs which suit your loved oneâ€™s schedule. For example, if your loved one takes pills in the morning and at night, a basic A.M./P.M. organizer for each day of the week should suffice. If they take pills once a day, a day of the week organizer or date-specific 30 day organizer may be a better option. Look online or in your local drugstore for pill organizer options.
Talk to the Doctor
As a caregiver, if you are struggling with staying on top of medicine schedules, or even struggling with getting your loved one to take their medicine on time, it might be worth having a conversation with the doctor to see what alterations may help. Perhaps the doctor can reduce the frequency at which medicine is taken, i.e. from twice a day to once a day, or they can recommend easier-to-use medicines like oral suspension varieties if your loved one is having difficulty swallowing pills.
Keep a Chart
For some chronic illnesses, prescriptions may come with strict guidelines including not taking medicine right after you have eaten, or placing a patch on your loved oneâ€™s body every 24 hours but only in certain locations and not in the same place twice within a set amount of days. For these more complicated requirements, keep a chart handy so you can go ahead and schedule out when medicine should be taken and then mark off daily that it was completed successfully. Not only will this keep you from forgetting day to day where and when you administered the medicine, but it will alleviate some of the stress associated with keeping track of it all.
Try an App
If your loved one is capable of giving themselves medicine, you might consider installing a helpful app on their smartphone that will ping them with reminders and alerts when it is time to take pills. Medisafe (for iOS and Android) is a well-regarded app which not only keeps track of when medicine should be taken, but works with doctors and pharmacies to integrate your loved oneâ€™s care, prescription refills, etc. into one place. In addition to pill reminders, the CareZone app (for iOS and Android) lets your loved one keep a journal of their day to day condition, as well as schedule appointment reminders and keep a list of important medical contacts.
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Address Your Loved Oneâ€™s Fears
Without fail, there are some patients who simply are hesitant to keep up with a prescribed medicine regimen because of fear of adverse side effects or an attitude that the medicine isnâ€™t necessary. This is normal, natural, and typically repercussive of lack of communication from the doctor or miseducation about your loved oneâ€™s own condition and treatment plan. Where possible, sync up with your loved oneâ€™s doctor so they can do a deep dive with you both about how the medicine will work to aid your loved oneâ€™s symptoms, what potential for side effects is, and why itâ€™s important to stay on schedule.
When it comes to an issue the medical community refers to as medicine adherence, itâ€™s critical to find ways to help your loved one take their medicine as prescribed on time without fail. Not only will this make management of illnesses and chronic conditions easier, but it provides stability and structure to you and your loved oneâ€™s life. Easy steps like using apps for reminders, coordinating doses with pill organizers, and maintaining helpful charts may make all the difference.
Here are a list of tools and apps to help you get started: