Fortunately, there are ways to help ensure medication is taken as directed. The seven strategies below can help family, friends and caregivers assist a loved one with taking their medicine correctly.
Creating a record of current medications is the first step in helping someone organize their meds. Your sheet doesn’t have to be complicated, but it should include the medication name, strength, dose and prescribing doctor. It’s also helpful to note whether a medication is on an as-needed basis or continuous.
Finally, while you may not need to write down every past or discontinued medication, it’s beneficial to keep notes on any drugs that caused severe side effects or didn’t work as well as they should have. If you need help gathering this information, reach out to your loved one's care team at Autumn View Gardens or their pharmacy.
To ensure medication safety for your loved one with early dementia, you need a good working relationship with all care team members. Start with their pharmacist, whether online or in-person at an Ellisville, Missouri, pharmacy. Many seniors visit multiple doctors, and all too often, individual doctors may be unaware of what the other is doing. The pharmacist can review a senior's medication record to check for overlaps, contraindications and gaps in refill times.
Your loved one may receive a medication update, such as a new prescription, dose change or discontinuation, during a doctor’s visit. In that case, make sure all changes are communicated to everyone involved in their care, from other doctors to the team members and nurses at their senior community.
During hospital stays, it’s not uncommon for the hospital care team to change or discontinue meds, even long-standing maintenance medications. Therefore, always ask for a discharge summary of drugs to ensure your medication list is current and avoid duplications in therapy.
Maintenance medications are taken on a regular basis to treat ongoing health conditions, such as high blood pressure, diabetes or excess stomach acid. Missed doses can lead to breakthrough problems and, in some cases, more serious complications. To ensure the best outcome for your loved one, try one of these options:
Your loved one may have some medications available to take as needed. These may be over-the-counter or prescribed — for example, Tylenol (acetaminophen) for a headache, cough drops for a dry, itchy throat or a nasal inhaler or tablets for allergies. Make sure these medications are clearly labeled and easy to read. Consider bold markers and separate containers for different types of products.
Review these medicines with your loved one periodically to ensure they know how and when to take them, and check expiration dates. Always include these as-needed items in their medication record to better inform health professionals assisting in their care.
It’s a fact of life that most medications come with side effects. Some are merely annoying, but others can be more troublesome. Start by exploring the common side effects of your loved one’s medicine, paying particular attention to those that could cause a safety issue.
For instance, many muscle relaxants, insomnia medications and opioid pain relievers can cause drowsiness, dizziness or confusion. Other side effects may be preventable, like taking a probiotic with an antibiotic to reduce or prevent antibiotic-induced diarrhea.
The more you know about the medication your loved one takes, the better you’ll be able to help them manage any uncomfortable side effects. If their doctor prescribes new meds, always ask about potential side effects.
Your loved one will benefit most from their prescriptions when they take them as directed. This includes special instructions such as “Take with food or milk” or “Do not crush.” Some pills are designed to dissolve over time in the digestive tract. Therefore, chewing or crushing them could release too much of the drug into the body at one time.
Talk to your pharmacist if your loved one has difficulty swallowing an exceptionally large or unusually shaped pill. They may be able to switch the medication to a liquid form or provide two smaller tablets that equal the amount of the larger one.
Individuals with early dementia may have other issues with medication besides correct dosing. For example, they may be unwilling or scared to take their medicine.
*Please don't remove this section it is working with 3 TalkFurther buttons on live url