By: Arlene Schiff, RN, BSN, Open Arms Solutions Medication management is one of a caregiver’s most important roles. This task can be challenging because many older adults take multiple drugs for multiple health issues. And the more pills, the more room there is for potential error. Despite good intentions, medication mistakes happen and for a variety of reasons. For example, miscommunication of drug orders can involve poor handwriting, confusion between drugs with similar names, poor packaging design and confusion about dosing. Healthcare professionals, caregivers and patients all have a role in preventing medication errors. Help with Medication Management and More Caregivers can take a few simple steps to help ensure they are properly and safely managing medication.
- Make a Medication List The list should be up-to-date and include all prescription and over-the-counter drugs, vitamins and supplements that are also being taken. For each medicine, list the generic and brand name; the dosage amount, method and frequency; and reason for taking the drug. Bring this list to all doctor and hospital visits.
- Review the Medication List Often Prescriptions often change after a hospitalization or skilled nursing stay. Make sure the medications are all correct and that any new prescriptions are filled when the patient returns home.
- Talk to the Pharmacist or Doctor Don’t be shy! Ask about any potential side effects, possible drug interactions, proper storage suggestions and if there is anything else you should know about the medications prescribed.
- Try to Stick to One Pharmacy Limiting the number of pharmacies or retail stores used to fill prescriptions can help reduce the chance of having a negative drug interaction.
- Use a Pill Organizer These handy special containers for storing medicine really improve accuracy and compliance. The pills are organized by day of the week and multiple times each day to simplify the mediation routine.