Whether you are new to caregiving, or have been supporting others for a while, it can be tricky to manage the daily medication needs of others. Here are a few easy steps to organize a medication routine.
1. Make a list
First step in any medication plan is to track what you know. Making a list of all the medications that your charge takes on a daily, weekly or monthly basis is the first step to managing their health effectively. Be sure to include the name, dose, and time of day it needs to be taken. It may also be helpful to jot down a memo about what the medicine is prescribed to treat
2. Organize your chart
Add a description or a picture of the pill, liquid or powder. Don’t forget to include storage instructions (Example: insulins need to be refrigerated) and how it needs to be taken (chewed, swallowed whole, injection, rub on skin, inhaled, etc.). Grouping the medicine into time slots or days of the week can make it easier to stay on track. Consider using a pre-populated written form or an App to help you organize. (example: MyMedSchedule Plus).
3. Pay attention to any specific preparation or warnings
Include any preparation instructions in your chart. (Example: cut tablet in half, take with food, dilute with saline before injection, remove old patch before placing new patch, etc.) Don’t forget to note any specific handling of this medication. (Example: avoid touching the eye with a medicine dropper, this can damage the eye and contaminate the bottle; nitroglycerine tablets shouldn’t be handled by a caregiver without gloves (This medication is absorbed quickly through your skin and can cause severe headaches.)
4. Store your medicine in a safe place
Keep them stored above easy reach of children. Use child resistant caps when possible on pill bottles when children are around or if you care for an elderly person with memory issues or who gets confused easily. Remember the Poison Control hotline for any accidental ingestion: 1-800-222-1222
5. Make daily pill packs
Using an App tracker to check off when you’ve taken a medication can be a great way to keep on track. Another way is once a week to divide the daily doses of medicine into a pill reminder box. For even easier organization, packaging a months’ worth of daily doses in easy to take daily bags.
6. Know what to do if you accidently miss a dose
Some medicines can be given as soon as they are remembered. Others are best to skip until the next time they are scheduled to be given. Work with your pharmacist or the doctor who prescribed the medicine to know what to do in these situations. Then add it to your chart!
7. Work with your local Pharmacist
The best resource you have, of course, is your pharmacist to help understand each and every medication your charge receives. Working together will help you feel more in control of proper medication administration.
By: Darcy Donahue, Manager of Clinical Integrity at Health Dialog, a subsidiary of Rite Aid
- US Dept HHS, Head Start Early Childhood Learning & Knowledge Center (Professional Early Care or Educational Caregivers) December 4, 2020. https://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/video/medication-administration
- US Food & Drug Administration. Are You Taking Medication as Prescribed? June 9, 2009 https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/are-you-taking-medication-prescribed
- US Food & Drug Administration. My Medicine Record. March 2011. https://www.fda.gov/media/73856/download