About 30% of hospitalizations for seniors are related to mismanaged meds. Missed doses and overdoses of prescribed medications are the most common mistakes made. Other problems can occur when possible drug interactions are not clearly understood or when patients are not aware of the degree to which their balance or cognition may be affected when using certain medications. This is why it is essential to have a good medication management plan for home. Taking the time to organize and understand your medications can prevent serious complications.
One of the simplest things you can do is purchase a pill sorter. Pill sorters come in different configurations. The most basic ones have two compartments, one for morning and one for night. Other sorters come with three or four separate compartments that cover other times of day.
All sorters are not created equal as far as ease of use. Better quality ones are easy to open, have markings that will not rub off or fade, and allow you to separate the individual days. For example, the Jumbo Portable Pill Box has both tactual markings and braille to mark the times. The individual days are also removable, and it has a ridge on the lid that helps with leveraging the compartments open.
Organizing The Month
If possible, it is helpful to organize more than one week at a time. Organizing a month in advance saves time in the long run. Once you have all the supplies out, you can quickly fill up a few more weekly rows. Organizing a month in advance also allows you to see when you might run out of certain medications and helps you plan for calling in refills or consulting your doctor if you need a medication change.
While you could buy several smaller pill sorters and add them all together to complete your month, one great option is to use the MedCenter Talking One Month Medication Organizer. This organizer has 31 individual boxes, each with four compartments for the day. They all fit neatly into one big display, with a special place to put that day’s box. This organizer also has a talking alarm that reminds you to take your medications.
While organizing a month in advance can help you plan your dosing and avoid problems like forgetting to refill your medications, another great way to prevent missing medications is to enroll in your pharmacy’s auto-refill program.
Not all pharmacies will have an auto-refill program, but if they do, you should consider it for any medications you take regularly. Typically the pharmacy will set their computer system to automatically refill your prescription at the time you should only have a couple of days left. Sometimes these programs will require you to respond “yes” or “no” to a text or automated phone call to confirm that you want to refill. Other programs just go ahead and refill it without confirmation. The details vary from pharmacy to pharmacy.
Stick With A Pharmacy You Love
If it’s possible to get all of your medications from one pharmacy, then try to do so. Using multiple pharmacies can be confusing, time-consuming, and possibly even dangerous. When using more than one pharmacy, you will have to keep track of which pharmacy to call for what refill. You may also waste time each month driving to different locations to pick up your medications.
The biggest problem with using multiple pharmacies, however, is that the pharmacist may not be familiar with all of your medications and will be less able to advise you on possible drug interactions. Your pharmacist needs to see the big picture to give good advice on dosing or potential side effects. If all of your medications are entered into the computer at one location, this becomes much easier.
Using Timers Or Alarms
Technology is your friend when trying to stay on schedule with your medications. Find a timer or alarm system that is easy to operate and works best for your lifestyle. Some people just set a timer on their watch or phone. Other people find that they can too easily shut these off before completing the task of taking their meds, and then they still forget to do it.
The Your Minder Personal Alarm Clock was designed to avoid that pitfall. This clock can record your voice with a personal alarm or reminder up to six times a day. The alarm is compatible with the MedCenter One Month Organizer by nestling onto the front of the pill sorter. Having to walk over to your medications to shut off the alarm will help prevent you from wandering away without actually taking them.
Ask For Help
If you continue to struggle with medication management, it’s important to recognize what a serious issue this could become. Forty percent of seniors enter nursing homes because they can’t self-medicate in their own homes. Your independence is valuable, and asking for help may allow you to continue living in a less restrictive environment.
The first place you can seek help is from relatives or close friends. They may be happy to come and organize your medications for you or to check to make sure you have taken your medications each day. If this is not an option, you may qualify for in-home nursing care. Nursing care can oversee the task of medication administration as well as assess your overall health.
The average senior takes between eight and fifteen medications. That is a lot to remember. ILA is happy to help you stay healthy, safe, and independent by offering products that make managing your medications easier.