SERVING VOLUSIA COUNTY…
Did you know only 45% of seniors take their medication correctly? According to the Department of Health and Human Services, the other 55% are “non-compliant” with following their doctor’s orders for how to take their medication. Taking medication incorrectly can be harmful, even fatal. The most common mistakes seniors make are forgetting to take medication (skipping doses) or forgetting if they have already taken doses and taking it again (overdosing). It is also easy to forget to fill the prescription and miss days waiting for medication to be ready. If this sounds like you or your senior loved one, you are not alone! Here are 10 tips to help you effectively managing your medication schedule and get back on track.
- Know your Facts- You should know exactly what medication you are taking and why you are taking it. American Nurse Today recommends that you make a list of all the medications you are taking, and identify each one’s name, dosage, frequency, side effects, instructions, and reason for taking it. Don’t forget to include over the counter drugs and supplements on your list. Carry this list with you at all times and bring it to every doctor's appointment.
- Presort- An organizer separated by days of the week is definitely a must. Get into the routine of presorting your medication at the beginning of the week so you don’t have to deal with the bottles and the confusing clutter. Not only do organizers help keep all your medications in one place, they also make it very obvious if you accidentally forget to take a pill.
- Change the labels- If those tiny bottle labels are hard to see, ask your pharmacist to print them in a larger print size.
- Take medication correctly- It is important to know how to take your medication correctly. Ask your doctor for written instructions that you can reference later. Know if it should be taken with food, liquid, or on an empty stomach. Never cut, crush, or mix capsules in liquid unless you have asked your doctor.
- Know what meds can be taken together- The average adult takes 5 or more medications each day, and that doesn’t even account for the over- the-counter pills. Over-the- counter meds, including pain relievers, antacids, and laxatives, can interact with prescriptions, so it is important to include them in the list of medications to have checked over by your doctor. It is also helpful to use only one pharmacist so they get an accurate picture of everything you are taking.
- Set reminders- Don’t rely solely on your memory to tell you when to take your pills, especially if you are a senior living alone. Decide on a daily medication routine and then set a reminder alarm on your phone or clock. There are even smartphone apps to help keep on track.
- Don’t ignore side effects- When you start a new medication it is important to monitor any changes in your health. Watch for side effects such as dizziness, problems sleeping, weakness, pain, or loss of appetite. Tell your doctor about these changes to see if the new medication could be causing them.
- Get a refill plan- Mark your calendar and plan ahead so you aren’t left with empty bottles. Take advantage of the pharmacy’s automatic refill programs, home delivery, and refill reminder phone alerts.
- Ask for generics- The cost of medication can be outrageous. Instead of taking the brand-name medication, ask your pharmacist if a less expensive generic alternative is available.
- Don’t skip check-ups- It is important to frequently visit your doctor as your health care needs change. This will help keep all your prescriptions up-to date and help you avoid taking any medication you no longer need. You want to keep your medication list current and know how each prescription is helping you. Discuss side effects and other alternatives if the medication isn’t working for you.
Caregiver tip: If your senior loved one has Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, it is important that you manage their medication for them.
Stayed tuned to the County Health Care Guide Blog to learn more about assisted-living, senior care, senior placement, and important senior news in Volusia County. From Daytona to Port Orange to New Smyrna Beach, the County Health Care Guide is the only resource you need.