As the health needs of aging adults change, medications may change as well. If you or a loved one routinely takes several prescriptions and dietary supplements each day, staying organized can help prevent missed doses, provide safety, and ensure specific conditions are managed with care. At St. Barnabas Health System, senior wellness and prevention are at the heart of our healthcare community. Here, we discuss five tips for effective medication management.
1. Make a Medication List
Keeping an up-to-date list of all the medications you take helps make medication management simple. Whether it’s a prescription drug or dietary supplement, it’s important to make sure to account for everything you’re currently taking. This list can include key points about your medications, such as:
- Prescription/generic names
- Dosage instructions
- Possible side effects
- Medication start and end dates
- Visual description of each pill
Keep a copy of this list at home for your personal records and keep another copy on hand for when you visit the doctor. With the most current list in your wallet or purse, it’s easy to refer to it any time you need it. This list can also help ensure your home health aides are informed and better able to provide the care you need.
2. Ask Your Doctor and Pharmacist Detailed Questions
One of the biggest things you can do for your health is to ensure you fully understand each medication you’re taking. This means asking your doctor questions about what they’re prescribing you and why. When it’s time to visit your doctor, it may be helpful to bring a list of questions with you. If you reach the pharmacy and are still unsure about your medicine, your pharmacist is also a good resource to answer any questions. Common questions for your list may include:
- How does this prescription help my condition?
- When do I take this prescription?
- Does this prescription need to be taken with food?
- Are there any possible side effects?
- What should I do if I miss a dose?
- How do I store this drug?
- Will this prescription negatively interact with other medications or supplements on my list?
Your doctor and pharmacist are here for you. They can help you get a better grasp on your medications, your medical condition, and how to effectively manage both at home on your own or with a trusted caregiver.
3. Use the Same Pharmacy for Refills
When you go to the doctor you have a well-established relationship with them, and they remember you. Your provider knows your history, is familiar with any conditions you may have, and is a trusted resource for all your personal health needs. The same goes for your pharmacist. When you use the same pharmacy to refill your prescriptions, your pharmacist also gets to know you and what you’re currently taking. They can check for possible drug interactions on the spot and provide additional guidance as your health needs change.
4. Keep Providers Up to Date on Your Allergies
Your doctor, dentist, and other healthcare providers want to provide the best care possible. If you have an allergy to a medication, make sure all the providers you’re seeing are aware. This can help prevent the possibility of an adverse reaction occurring when a new medication is prescribed. This also helps to ensure your health is seamlessly managed between each of your providers.
5. Use a Pill Organizer
If you take several medications at different times of day, a pill organizer can help minimize the risk of dosage errors and make overall management simple. Pillboxes that are clearly labeled with each day of the week make it easy to see your medications have been taken each day, so you don’t forget. Plus, some even have daytime and nighttime identifiers that allow you to create a detailed organizational system based on your specific dosage times. Pill organizers come in weekly and monthly formats plus portable options to suit your unique health needs at home or on the go.
Learn More from St. Barnabas Health System
At St. Barnabas Health System, our care services extend throughout the greater Pittsburgh area, including in Allegheny, Beaver, and Butler counties. Our registered nurses can help with medication management and teaching during their home visits. For more information, reach out to us today.