Embarking on the journey of caring for an aging loved one can be a challenging endeavor. In the context of assisting your elderly relative to maintain their medication routine and ensure meticulous organization, this article provides practical, tried-and-tested strategies. Tips range from simple solutions like keeping medications in plain sight and integrating them into their daily routines, to more high-tech approaches like utilizing automatic pill dispensers and smartphone reminders. Regardless of your loved one’s personal needs, exploring these suggestions could help craft an adaptable system that ensures your senior family member stays on track with their medications.
Tips to Help Remember to Take Medications
Forgetting to take medication can be a common issue, especially as we age. Remember, though, each person is unique and what works best for one person, might not work for another. Through a process of trial and error, you can discover the optimal strategy for remembering medication. Here are a few tips that could help.
Always place medications in a visible location
Out of sight, out of mind certainly applies when it comes to taking medication, so make sure you place your medication in an easily visible area. Avoid storing daily medication in a drawer, cabinet, or any other hidden spot. Instead, place them in areas that you frequent during your routine, such as the kitchen table, next to your coffee pot in the morning, or by your toothbrush in the bathroom.
Associate medications with daily activities
Linking medication intake with daily activities can also act as a powerful stimulus for memory. Regular tasks like brushing your teeth, having meals, or getting dressed can all be paired with taking medication to encourage compliance.
Create a list of medications
Creating a list of all your medications, including doses, frequencies, and any specific instructions can be hugely helpful. This should also include any over-the-counter drugs and supplements. Keep a copy of this list in plain sight, such as on your refrigerator or next to your television, to make it a part of your daily routine.
Use an automatic pill dispenser
Automatic pill dispensers can remind you to take your medication multiple times per day with an alarm. These tools can be extremely useful, especially if you have memory, vision, or hearing impairment. These dispensers can prevent errors or double-dosing, and some even come with additional features, such as lights for those with hearing loss or emergency calls for missed alarms.
Program reminders on a smart device
If you’re comfortable with technology, consider programming reminders on your smartphone or tablet. There are numerous apps available that can send an alert when it’s time to take your medication. Just make sure you always have your device close at hand.
Set alarms with a timer or alarm clock
If you prefer a more low-tech approach, a traditional timer or alarm clock can do the trick. Just be mindful that this method relies on your responsiveness to the alarm, and the need for someone to regularly check and set it.
Hire a caregiver to provide reminders
Sometimes, you might need a little extra help. Hiring a caregiver can be a great way to ensure that you don’t forget to take your medication. A caregiver can monitor and report any medication problems and even handle prescription refills, giving both you and your family peace of mind.
Tips for Organizing Medications
Managing a range of medications can seem like a daunting task. However, with careful organization, it can become manageable and effective. Here are some tips to organize your medications effectively.
Use prefilled individual medication cups
You can use prefilled individual medication cups or any other small containers to store your medicine. Place these in designated locations around your home and label each with a marker, indicating the day and time for intake.
Document medication intake on a calendar or binder
Consider investing in a calendar or binder to document when you take your medications. You could either design a chart of medications and timings to mark off each dose, or simply prepare a list to check off doses throughout the day.
Separate daily medications from as-needed ones
To avoid confusion, keep your everyday medications separate from medications you only take when needed. Clearly label “as needed” medications according to their purpose and keep them in separate bins, carousels, or baskets.
Display medication bottles for easy viewing
Keep medication bottles in an easily accessible area. You could attach a pantry rack to a door or use a transparent shoe holder for easy viewing and access.
Clearly label each medication bottle
For those who struggle to read prescription bottles, clearly label each medication bottle with the dosage and time they should be taken. Color-coded bottles can also be beneficial. For instance, you can use red bottles for heart or blood pressure medications and blue for cold or allergy medications.
Designate a container for travel
Choose a sturdy, portable container to carry medications when travelling or going for doctor appointments. Anything from a lunchbox to a cosmetic bag can work as long as it protects and easily stores your medication.
Use a pill box to organize medications
Finally, a pill box can be a great way to organize your medication. These come in a variety of shapes and sizes to suit your needs. For example, if you only have one medication to take daily, a 7-day rectangular pill container can be ideal. If you need to take medication at different times throughout the day, choose a pill organizer with multiple compartments for easy management.