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While some major life changes, like becoming a parent or getting married, have a precise starting point, other changes happen gradually. Little by little, the seniors in our family may encounter a variety of limitations. Knowing when or how much to step into your aging loved one’s medical routine can be hard to pinpoint, but once identified, there are many ways we, as younger family members, can be of assistance. Thankfully, with some planning, organization, and tools, we can help our aging family members better manage their medications.
Becoming informed gives peace of mind
Having the full story lets us know how much we need to get involved and what tools we might need.
This can take many forms:
It can be as simple as paying attention to any changes in their weight, daily habits, or physical abilities.
Opening a loving conversation, even by phone, is a perfectly natural way to gain insight into how they have been feeling and getting along in their day-to-day life, especially if we don’t live nearby.
However, older generations often don’t want to be fussed over and may say they are fine. Later, though, they might reveal a contradicting story with their body language or tone.
Accompanying your loved ones to their appointments
It may not always be possible, but would certainly provide us the opportunity to get a more accurate picture, especially if we feel out-of-the-loop.
Come prepared with a list of questions and take notes. It also might be a good idea to ask for contact information so you can stay informed in the future.
Understanding what ailments are affecting our loved ones
It equips us with an accurate perspective of the present treatment while allowing us to prepare for the next steps.
Most importantly, knowing what someone is going through gives us a heart of compassion and opportunities to bond emotionally.
Staying on top of medications is vital
Medication management can cause so much stress and anxiety. Often, it’s the main reason family members begin to get involved in their loved one’s care regiment.
Some of the concerns we have as caring family members:
- Poor eyesight can make different pills look similar.
- Medication names and purposes are complicated and difficult to remember.
- Forgetfulness, distractibility, or confusion caused by memory impairment or dementia can cause a person to skip their dosages or take additional pills, which puts their health at risk.
- Some foods can adversely interact with medications.
- Aching joints and muscle loss can make opening pill bottles challenging.
When it comes to meds, there is little to no room for mistakes.
Here are some helpful tools:
Remedic Multi-Opener with Magnifier and LED Light
This easy-to-use tool solves several problems many older adults with low-vision and arthritis face.
First of all, it takes the struggle out of opening safety-lids on almost any medication bottle. Its soft TPR rubber gives the user a better grip so they can open them with ease.
Plus, the LED light and magnifying lens helps patients with sight problems read dosing instructions and small print more clearly. If they can easily read the names and instructions on the pill bottles themselves, mistakes are less likely to happen. Buy on Amazon or visit the Remedic Website to learn more.
Timers and Alarms
Simply setting alarm clocks or timers around your loved one’s house can be a gentle medication reminder. Of course, this may not be helpful if your family members are hard of hearing.
Still, some alarm and timers are designed specifically for these individuals using extra loud alerts, flashing lights, or vibrations. One such product, The Sonic Alert Sonic Boom, can even be set up to shake a bed, or even turn lamps on!
Make a list, chart, table, or template
This is a great way to keep track of the who, whats, and when. It’s also an excellent opportunity to learn about your loved one’s medication routine.
- Include their name.
- Medication name, medication type, and perhaps what its role is (i.e., Bumex, diuretic, for body fluid/blood pressure management)
- What time or times of day to take it (i.e., two times per day, morning and evening)
- Amount (i.e., ½ pill at a time)
- Specify if it needs to be taken with a meal
- List any vitamins or supplements.
- List any food or beverages that need to be avoided.
- Include refill dates if applicable.
You can create these charts yourself or explore some free options online.
Medication Reminder Apps
If your aging family member is tech-savvy, they might enjoy some of the fantastic medication reminder apps available. Even if they are not enthusiastic about technology, you, as the caretaker, might find these digital reminder apps helpful and easy to use.
In a sense, these are designed to combine all the benefits of timers, alarms, lists, calendars, and schedules.
You can easily track side-effects or appetite changes over time. One app called Medisafe is free, simple to understand, and is designed with caregiving family members in mind. One of the most exciting aspects of this app is that it alerts you to dangerous medication and food interactions.
Traditional pill organizers are sectioned off for each day of the week. Some even have AM and PM areas for each day.
The issue that some people run into, especially people with sight or memory impairment, is that pills get distributed incorrectly. It is also common for people to mix their days up.
One way to address these issues is to use pill organizers in combination with schedules, charts, alarms, or reminder apps. After all, it is just one more fantastic tool in our caretaking toolbox.
Another way to address pill organizing problems is to explore some of the electronic pill organizer products on the market. These can range in price from $50 to well over $500.
You could also try a service called PillPack. They mail sorted and well-labeled medication baggies that are dispensed daily. Although Medicare does not cover these products or services, you might find the safety features worth its weight in gold.
Honestly, it can be difficult for anyone to keep track of medications, but with these tips, it’s doable. Stay strong!
Krystle Cook – the creator of Home Jobs by MOM – put her psychology degree on a shelf and dived into a pile of diapers and dishes instead. She is a wife and mother to two rambunctious boys, sweating it out in her Texas hometown. She loves cooking, DIY home projects, and family fun activities.