As your loved one ages, he or she may require medication for health conditions. He or she may also take over-the-counter pills, vitamins, herbs, and dietary supplements. While each medication may help manage symptoms, be sure that the prescribing physician and pharmacist are aware of all medications your loved one is taking. Short-term memory loss, which is common in older individuals, can increase the risk of harm for your loved one. This is why caregivers often manage medication for their loved one.
Consider the following tips to manage medication properly:
- Make a list of your loved one’s prescribed medications, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, supplements, and herbs. Also list the dosage, frequency, and name and number of the prescribing physician. Keep one copy in your wallet, and another copy in your loved one’s wallet. Post a third copy on the refrigerator in your loved one’s home so emergency personnel can find the list quickly in an emergency. Be sure to bring this list to every doctor’s appointment.
- Obtain all medications from the same pharmacy. This will allow the pharmacist to detect potential problems and recommend over-the-counter medications that can be taken safely.
- Be aware of potential drug interactions. A drug interaction is a change in the way a drug works or its efficacy due to the effects of another drug or substance. Other medications, herbal supplements, alcohol, and some foods can interact with prescription medications. Grapefruit juice, for example, can affect more than 50 prescription and over-the-counter drugs.
- Take each medicine as prescribed and do not share it with anyone.
- If there are instructions for tapering off a medication, be sure to follow these exactly.
- Pay attention to the color and shape of all pills. If they look different when refilled, ask the pharmacist to ensure you have the right medicine.
- Store medication in a cool, dry location.
- Use caution when adding over-the-counter medications. Just because over-the-counter medication is available without a prescription doesn’t mean it’s safe for everyone. Medications used to treat coughs and colds, pain, fever, allergies, heartburn, and insomnia are powerful drugs that can cause health risks when misused.
As your loved one ages, certain medications may alleviate symptoms and improve quality of life. Besides the importance of medication management, consider talking to your loved one about a long term care plan, which may include long term care insurance (LTCi). LTCi may increase options for future care, while also preserving assets. Remember, it may be helpful to consider LTCi before an illness or injury. Early planning can allow time to research your options and seek advice, as needed.