As many caregivers know, the challenge of managing a loved one's medication can be a daunting task. With patients having multiple illnesses, prescriptions, and dosages, it's a major responsibility that can be stressful and incredibly time consuming. According to a survey conducted by John Hopkins University people 65 and over make up 13% of the population but consume more than 30 percent of all medications prescribed. On average seniors take between 2 to 7 prescription medications daily.
With so much depending on the accurate administration of medications it is important for caregivers to have as much knowledge as possible about the medicine a loved one is prescribed and be health advocates for them when they visit the doctor or pharmacist.
Below Estee Bienstock RN, Executive Director of ALLPOINT Home Health, provides key items for caregivers to be aware of as they assist with or manage the medication of their loved one.
Key things to know about the medication a love one is taking
- Brand and generic name
- Purpose and appearance
- Dosage and what to do if a dose is missed
- How and when to take the medication (i.e. with water, food, on an empty stomach, etc.)
- Side effects and what to do
- Drug interactions with food, alcohol, other medications and over-the-counter products (including herbal products.)
- Storage (e.g., in the refrigerator, original container only, away from sunlight, etc.)
While caring for your loved one at home
- Read the entire prescription label.
- Recheck the label before administrating each dose.
- Give the medication exactly as prescribed.
- If your loved one develops difficulty breathing, call 911 immediately.
- Throw away expired medications.
- Ask the pharmacist to recommend a reference book or website on medications.
While you're at the doctor's office or pharmacy
- Learn as much as possible about your loved one's illness/disease.
- Ask the doctor as many questions as you need to understand their medication.
- Make sure that all your loved one's doctors are aware of all the medications you are taking.
- Fill all the prescriptions at the same pharmacy.
- Inform the doctor or pharmacist about any problems your loved one is having with their medication, foods, herbal products, or dietary supplements.
When your loved one is a patient at a hospital
- Bring an updated written list of the medications the patient is taking and those they cannot tolerate.
- Ask what each new medication is for.
- If a medication in not administered on time; ask for the nurse.
- Ask the nurse or pharmacist if something looks different.
- Do not take medications brought from home (including herbal products and dietary supplements.)
For more information on medication management:
Estee Bienstock RN is the Executive Director of ALLPOINT Home Health. She grew up in Los Angeles, and graduated from the LAC/USC Nursing School in 1976. After years of working in area hospitals, Estee recognized a need for better post-acute in-home care. She then founded Enhanced Health Care in 1989 and quickly set the standard for quality home care. In 2001, Estee formed ALLPOINT Home Health, with the goal of maintaining her unrivaled level of ethics and high standards of customer care. Her philosophy is that each client should be cared for the way she would care for her own family member. Since its inception, ALLPOINT Home Health has been leading the way in helping seniors and disabled adults safely retain their independence in the home.