Keeping track of your own medications can already prove to be a difficult task, but managing multiple medications for someone else as a caregiver takes even more thought and organisation. It can be especially difficult with seniors who are unfamiliar with their medications or are refusing to take them.
In fact, 45 percent of the medications prescribed in the UK are for older people aged 65 and over, with 36 percent of people age 75 and older taking four or more prescribed drugs. Furthermore, studies have shown that as many as 50 percent of older people on prescribed medication may not be taking their medicine as instructed.
From administering the correct dose, to timing the medications so that they don’t interfere with each other, to remembering to be consistent with times, medication management can feel like one of the highest-pressure caregiver services and sometimes, can just feel outright overwhelming.
However, with proper organisation and prescription planning, medication management can be more efficient and less stressful. Read on to learn five tips on how to develop a medication management routine that is consistent and effective.
1. Familiarise Yourself with Each Medication—Research and Ask Questions
First and foremost, it is essential that you become an expert on each medication that you are administering to your patient or loved one so that you do not make a mistake that could possibly put their health in danger. For this reason, it is important to research dosages, how often it should be taken, what the possible side effects are, and whether it has a negative reaction or is less effective when taken in combination with other drugs. You should also speak with the doctor that prescribed the medication to learn why the medication was prescribed in the first place, as well as precise instructions on how and when the medication should be taken. Don’t be afraid to ask questions that provide you with more helpful details about the drugs such as whether it should be taken with food, when it should be taken to be most effective, how often it should be refilled, etc. That’s what doctors are there for.
2. Make a Schedule and Stick to It
Once you are familiar with the medications and how to administer them to your patient or loved one, make a list of all of the drugs, along with all of the important information you collected from your research and prescriber. Using that information, you can now make a schedule of when each medication should be taken throughout the day, according to all of the guidelines you were given. It is important to make this schedule and stick to it, as being consistent develops healthy habits that make administering medication much easier to remember.
3. Avoid Confusion by Preparing and Separating Prescriptions—Organisation is Key
It is important to keep all medications separate so that they do not accidentally get mixed up. Instead of throwing all of the similar-looking medicine bottles into a bulky medicine bag and calling it a day, try organising the medication in a way that makes your job most efficient. Whether separating the bottles into separate medicine bins with labels or actually buying a medicine organiser works best for you, there are several options out there that will help you stay organised.
4. Monitor Symptoms and Side Effects in the Patient
Remember that the whole point of administering medication to a patient is to improve their overall health and help them feel better. Continue to monitor and check in on how your loved one or patient is doing on their medication to assure that they are achieving the desired effects. Regularly asking your patients how they are feeling not only shows them that you care about them and their health but also gives you insight into how they’re feeling and whether the medication is working properly. If your loved one is being stubborn or refusing to cooperate with taking their medicine, there may be a deeper issue that can be uncovered if you ask them why they don’t want to take it. It helps to have the doctor speak to the patient about the importance of taking their medication, as the person may be more willing to listen to a professional. If you are noticing negative side effects that are bothering your loved one, it’s time to talk to their doctor about other possible solutions.
5. Practice Patience
Taking medication is one of those things in life that we don’t love to do but we must do. It may feel like a battle sometimes pushing the patient to do what’s best for them by consistently taking their medications, but remember that your loved one’s wellbeing is worth it. While it may be easy to get frustrated when they are making your job more difficult than it has to be, try to practice patience. Patience and positivity should be associated with taking medications, rather than frustration and negativity that can make a patient even more difficult to deal with when it’s time to take their medicine. Making the medicine easier to take for the patient also helps with the process. If the pill is big and hard to swallow, always give your patient a glass of one of their favourite drinks to wash it down with (again, choose a drink that follows the guidelines of the medicine). Tips and tricks like this can turn a negative experience into a positive one.
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