Often times when organizing, we can overlook our vitamins and pills. Adults 65 and older use more medicine daily than any other age group in the United States, accounting for 34 percent of all prescription medication, according to the National Council on Patient Information and Education. Family members and caregivers can assist their loved ones by helping them keep track of their medications and make sure they're taken at the right time, and in the correct dosage. Between 40 and 75 percent of older people do not take their medications correctly, according to the Council.
Here are six tips for effective medication management, either for yourself or your loved one.
Keep an Up-to-Date List
Create a list of all your medications and keep it current with any changes. Your list should include:
- the name of the medication and its generic, if it has one
- the dosage, its frequency, and any special instructions
- the purpose of the medication
- the expiration date
- the name of the prescriber
Not only will this help you track when you need refills, but it will also be on-hand for your next doctor appointment.
See Your Doctor Regularly
Like other aspects of your health, the need for medications can change. You and your doctor should review your medications taking at each visit. Be sure to bring your list of medications with you each time.
Use Pill Organizers
One of the easiest ways to keep track of your medications is to use pill organizers. These days, there’s an amazing variety available to fit just about any need. There are different sizes and shapes, and many are color-coded. Many have the time of day labeled as well. If you have a particularly complex regimen, you may want to buy more than one organizer to help keep things straight.
Take Medications at the Same Time Every Day
It’s best to create a regular habit when taking your medication. Doing so will make it easier to remember and will become “second nature” after a while. Another trick is to link taking your medication with another activity such as a meal, brushing your teeth, or before or after a daily walk.
Set Alerts on Your Smartphone
Use your smartphone “reminders” feature to set alerts for the times of day you need to take your medication. If you want to get even fancier, there are many apps available that will do the same thing. Some can help you quickly and easily create your medication list as well.
Follow Instructions Carefully
Instructions include the amount to take, how often to take it, and any special instructions. Special instructions may include taking the medication with or without food, at a specific time of day, or not driving or operating machinery if you’re on certain medications. Be sure to consult your pharmacist or doctor if you have any questions about taking your medications.