Managing meds: memory aids for taking the right pill at the right time.
Taking pills is a fact of life for older adults. In fact, 36% of seniors take at least five different prescription drugs every day. And that doesn’t include over-the-counter medications and supplements. Add it all up and it’s easy to see how older adults can lose track of which pills they’ve taken when.
Make a list.
The first step to keeping track of all the medicines you’re taking is to write them all down. Put pen to paper and include the following:
- Name of prescription medication, over-the-counter medication, vitamins and supplements
- What each pill is for
- How and when to take it
- How much to take (dosage)
- Name of doctor who prescribed it
- Color/shape of medicine
- Any side effects or warnings
Put all your pills in one place.
It’s hard to keep track of your medications if you have pills stored in different places all over the house. Retrieve them from your medicine cabinet, kitchen cabinet, bedside table or refrigerator and keep them in one place. Ideally, in a cool, dry place, which means the bathroom cabinet or refrigerator aren’t the best places to keep your meds. (However, follow your pharmacist’s instructions for medications that should be refrigerated.)
Organize your medications for the week.
If you only take a few pills a day, use your list to create a simple medicine chart with columns for medication name, dose, day, and time of day you take it. You can see printable templates for daily medication schedules here.
Another option is to use a pillbox with compartments for each day of the week. This allows you to presort all the pills you or your loved one needs for the week. The best pillboxes have enough compartments for every pill needed throughout the day.
Reminders that beep, buzz, flash and talk.
If you want more than a basic pillbox to help you stay on track, plenty of options are available. There are programmable pillboxes that vibrate and sound an alarm, pill dispensers that beep and send email or text reminders, and dispensers that send voice messages you can record and send to your loved one. Here are some options to put your pillbox on steroids.
Apps for your phone.
Smartphone apps are another way to help your loved one remember when to take their pills. Medication management apps like this one are available free for iPhone or Android. Of course, if the senior in your life is more comfortable with a kitchen timer than a cell phone, medication management apps may not be the best solution.
Still can’t remember when to take your pills?
Not taking medications prescribed by your doctor can endanger your health. If the senior in your life is having difficulty managing their meds, they may need more than a beeping pillbox or an alert on their phone. It could even be a sign of something more than just occasional forgetfulness.
At Green Hills Manor at The Heritage, we offer personalized care plans, including medication management for seniors, to ensure your loved one is getting the medication they need to stay well.
Of course, Personal Care at Green Hills Manor offers much more than medical assisted living. Nutritious and tasty meals, fitness programs, wellness activities, friendly staff, transportation, and housekeeping make life easier and more engaging for residents. Personal Care at Green Hills Manor also offers a helping hand with daily tasks, such as bathing, dressing, walking and eating. To learn how Personal Care can help your loved one, visit our Personal Care page.