Managing and supervising medications is an important part of caring for your aging loved one. It is important to practice safe and effective medication management to avoid errors and unwanted consequences.
Understanding your loved one’s medications will help you supervise effectively and safely administer them.
1. Know the names of the medications: You will need to learn the names of the medications your loved one takes and any instructions for administering safely.
2. Keep an up-to-date list of medications: It’s important to keep a complete list of your loved one’s medications. Not only is it useful for doctor’s appointments and pharmacy visits, but in an emergency, this list can be very helpful in making sure your loved one gets proper care: You can use tools such as your RSC Care Center, which allows for medication reminders, or write it down in a notebook. A few tips for managing your medication list:
3. Know Details about Administering the Medication: Your doctor or pharmacist can provide information about the medications such as:
4. Learn how to read medication labels: Ask the pharmacist to show you. The label will provide basic instructions such as the name and the dose, how often to take the medicine, how many pills or capsules to take or how much liquid. It will also provide information as to when/where the prescription was filled, how many refills are available or if it needs the doctor’s renewal.
TIP: Don’t be confused by names. Most medications will have 2 names; one for the Brand name and the other is the generic or pharmaceutical name. Both will usually appear on the label if the generic is prescribed. Newer medications may not have a generic version and they are usually more expensive.
Organizing medications is a must. Two major medication errors are omission (forgetting) and taking the wrong dose. Be sure to verify with the labels when organizing medications. Don’t rely on your memory.
TIP: Read the medication label and be sure you and your loved one understand it. Verify with your RSC Care Center app that this is the same instruction the healthcare provider gave. Verify with the pharmacist if you have doubts or questions. Never make an assumption that the short bottle with the blue top is what you think it is. Check the label and time schedule before taking any medication.
TIP: Ask pharmacist about auto-fill. This is a convenient way to make sure mail-order medications are automatically sent according to current frequency and dosage orders. Check with your retail pharmacy about possible auto-fill options for recurring medications. Make sure you delete this option for any mail-order medication that has been discontinued or changed. You cannot return medications sent in error.
When loved ones see several different doctors, the possibility of medication errors increases. It’s vital to provide each physician with a complete and up-to-date medication list at each visit. The primary physician should review any updates or changes at each visit as part of his/her assessment. To avoid medication errors:
1. Use ONE pharmacy to fill all prescriptions: (TWO if you need one for retail and one for mail-order.) This way any duplications or contraindications will be flagged by the pharmacist. Not all chemicals in the medications are compatible. And sometimes they require taking hours apart.
2. Get Information on New Medications: For any new medications, be sure you get the name of the medication and instructions from the doctor. That way you can be assured that you receive the correct medication from the pharmacy.
3. Ask questions:
4. Understanding what the medication is for and how it acts will improve compliance.
5. Be sure to add or remove medications immediately from your organization setup when the physician makes changes: Wait a couple of weeks to try new meds and see how they work before you discard old medications.
TIP: Always keep medications in their original container with the label intact. (It is recommended that you only fill a medication organizer box with one week of medications.) Medications can be damaged by heat, light, and moisture. The worst place to store them is in the bathroom due to the moisture. A dresser drawer, a closet or kitchen cabinet away from the stove are preferred locations for storage.
There are several risks to be aware of when your loved one is taking multiple medications:
They are more likely to have side effects
They may be at risk for drug interactions: always check with their medical professionals about possible drug interactions
It can become more difficult for them to keep track when taking each medicine. Be sure to implement a system to manage their medications