How to help seniors manage medication

Talk with your doctor about your medication:

It is extremely important to talk with your doctor and take your medication in the exact amounts and at the times prescribed by the doctor. Do not stop taking your medicine without asking your doctor first. If you are experiencing unexpected side effects, talk to your doctor right away. Doctors are not mind readers, so be sure to tell them everything you can about your situation, including any over the counter medications or supplements you may be taking.

Keep a list of your medications:

Keep a list of all the medications you are taking. That way if you forget, or a caregiver needs to know what you take and when, you will have the right information. Be sure to record the dosage and how often you are supposed to take the drugs. Keep the list in a safe place and consider making copies which your closest relatives can keep on hand.
Know your medicines as well as your doctor does.

Know What You Are Taking and What It Does

If you take more than one, including over the counter drugs, medications can interact in very negative ways. Certain foods or alcohol can also affect medications you are taking. Some drugs may be potentially harmful if you have certain medication conditions.

If you have more than one doctor, or visit a new physician, be sure to tell each one about all of the medications you are taking. They may not know all the facts if you do not tell them.

Medication Update

Periodically review your meds with your doctor to make sure you still need to take them, and that nothing has changed in the way you should take them. A more effective or cheaper drug which does the same thing may be available.

Get Organized

Plastic pill organizers can help sort meds by day of the week and time of day – morning, noon, dinner, night time. There are also high tech options that can remind you when to take which meds.

Label Everything

It may be helpful to put your own simple labels on the meds. Rather than having to remember hard to read and pronounce drug names, having blood pressure meds labeled “BP”, or blood thinner marked “THINNER” can help seniors avoid pill confusion.