Advances in medicine are extending lives and have revolutionized healthcare in America, with more and more chronic conditions now treatable with prescriptions. But in order for medications to be effective, they have to be consistently taken as directed. Remembering to take your medication is as important as being prescribed the medication in the first place. Here are some tips for effectively managing medications for yourself and for loved ones.
Why Is Medication Management Important?
Developments in pharmaceuticals in recent decades have created a host of wonder drugs that help patients live longer, healthier lives. At the same time, because these medications so important to keeping us healthy, patients and caregivers have responsibility to take them. After all, it can be challenging to keep track of multiple prescriptions.
Medication management involves working with doctors to understand how medications work and why they are being prescribed. It also involves working with pharmacies to make sure that prescriptions are getting filled as needed and that patients don’t run out. Making sure that patients stay on schedule with their medications and avoid any harmful drug interactions is another important aspect of medication management. For many seniors, medication no longer means just taking a single pill. Many seniors are prescribed complicated daily regimens that require careful monitoring and attention.
According to a 2015 study by the Journal of the American Medical Association, one-third of seniors take at least five prescription drugs each day – and many take even more. Making sure seniors taking multiple medications don’t experience adverse drug interactions is a big part of medication management. With seniors dealing with a range of common chronic conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure, it’s important to make sure that drug interactions don’t cause negative side effects like confusion, depression or physical injury.
How Can I Remember To Take My Medications?
Setting up a system is key to effective medication management. Here are a few tips and tricks for remembering to take your medications:
- Get organized: pill organizers are inexpensive and essential – especially when multiple medications are involved.
- Make a list: The AARP recommends creating a written list so you don’t forget include name of the medication, doctor’s name and what it’s for. This list can be digitized if that works best for you.
- Use technology: The AARP also suggests using mobile phone apps and other technology to help keep track of medications. This can include medication dispensers that sound an alarm when it’s time to take your pills, along with using alarms and cell phone timers as reminders.
- Train your brain: American Occupational Therapy Association recommends using environmental cues in the home to jog your memory and incorporating medication timing with daily rituals – like meals or favorite television shows.
- Keep it front and center: AOTA also suggests storing medications in a highly visible location in the home (like a kitchen or bathroom) where you stop frequently throughout the day.
How Can Caregivers Help Manage Medications For A Loved One?
In the case of seniors, especially those who are recovering from illness or injury, medication management often falls to a caregiver. In addition to creating a solid system as described above, we’ve come up with some additional tips for caregivers, including suggestions from the National Council On Patient Information and Education.
- Make sure you understand your loved one’s medication regimen. This includes knowing what each prescription is for and how it works – not just when to take it. Don’t be shy about talking with your loved one’s doctor if you have questions.
- Read labels and double check for any possible interactions that providers may have missed.
- When possible, go to medical appointments with your loved one and build a relationship with their providers.
- Pharmacists are also an important link in the chain as they often have a more global view of everything the patient is taking. Your pharmacist can help with any concerns about drug interactions.
- Finally, talk regularly with your loved one about how their medications make them feel and whether they experience any negative changes when a new medication is prescribed.
Occupational Therapy And Medication Management
Increasingly, rehabilitation facilities are offering medication management as an integral part of occupational therapy programs. OT programs are key to helping patients re-adjust to living at home following an illness or injury. In addition to helping patients adapt to physical challenges and rebuild daily routines, occupational therapists have the perfect skill set to help patients and caregivers develop strategies for medication management. OT sessions can also help hold patients accountable for this important part of returning to life at home following a hospital stay.
Medication Management: A Team Effort For Optimal Health
These days, keeping yourself or your loved one healthy often means managing medications effectively and sticking to a routine every single day. Miracle drugs can only be miraculous if they’re taken the right way. It’s not always easy, but when patients, caregivers, doctors, pharmacists and therapists work together, it’s 100 percent doable. And the result, in many cases, is a longer, healthier, happier life.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding medication management, contact Evergreen Health and Rehab today.