For many aging parents, a significant amount of time can be spent on their medications. Whether it’s refilling them, ingesting them, carrying them, or simply finding them, it can add up to a lot of time and effort. Of course, the health benefits the medications provide make it well worth it.
Still, knowing that tips are generally welcome in this area, the following are offered as ways for aging parents to better manage their meds.
6 Simple Tips to Help Aging Parents Manage Medication
- Label the label. Particularly when a person is taking multiple medications, it can be difficult to remember what a particular medicine is for. Writing the purpose of each medication — “lower blood pressure,” “muscle pain,” etc., — on each label can help clarify this.
- Put the list on labels. Most aging parents know that they should be keeping a written (or computerized) list of each medicine, its dosage, how often it’s taken (and preferably what it’s taken for) so that they can bring it with them to medical appointments. Often on a visit, especially to a new doctor or dentist, the patient is asked about their medications. Printing the list on a peel-able label makes it easy to just peel it off and stick it right on the form.
- Know the side effects. Almost every medication has the potential to cause some side effect in a patient. It’s wise to know exactly what potential side effects are associated with each medication so that a person can keep an eye out for signs of those side effects.
- Ask about drug interactions. When a person is taking multiple medications, it’s possible that two (or more) medications may interact with each other negatively. This may mean that it impacts the effectiveness of one (or more) of the medications, or it may mean that it creates side effects that aren’t normally associated with either drug. Check with a doctor or pharmacist to make sure there aren’t potential drug interactions associated with one’s medications.
- Store medications appropriately. Consult the pharmacist to find out the conditions under which a medication should be stored. Some may need to be kept in the refrigerator; most should be kept in a dry area.
- Make medications easy to identify. Ask for labels to be printed in large font. Some aging parents also like to color code their medications; alternatively, they may color code the system by which they remember the time at which to take medications. For example, a red box may be set aside for morning doses, a blue for afternoon ones, and a green for evening ones.