Can't remember if and when you took your pills? Learn the secrets to success when it comes to medication management.
As we get older, health issues can become more common, and many require management with medication. Research shows that 44 percent of men and 57 percent of women older than 65 take five or more medications per week and 12 percent of both men and women take 10 or more prescription and over-the-counter medications per week. Medication management for seniors can be complicated, and keeping track of timing and doses is an important part of maintaining your health.
With the right systems and tools—plus regular doctor visits—seniors can take charge of their medication management and stay healthy and vital for years to come.
The first step in medication management for seniors is making a record of all current prescriptions and over-the-counter medications, including vitamins and herbal supplements. Include the brand or generic names, dosage, dosing instructions, prescribing doctor, and the reason for taking the medication. Take a copy of the list to your different doctors so they all have a complete record of your medications. This will decrease your chances of experiencing adverse events from drug interactions and therapy duplications.
Presorting all of your medications at the beginning of each week is an easy way to ensure you never miss a day or skip a dose. Use a pillbox divided by days of the week with separate compartments for different times of the day. This takes the guesswork out of your medication schedule—the box does the work for you.
There are several apps available online or on your mobile phone that can remind you to take your medications on the right day and at the right time. Particularly for people taking multiple medications, it can be difficult to remember the important details of each one—maybe one is taken only in the morning, and another is taken only with food. One study found that mobile apps, such as MyMeds Medication Management and MediSafe Meds and Pills reminder (both free), improve medication adherence even for non-tech-savvy older adults.
Alternatively, Rite Aid's Mobile Pharmacy App allows you to manage your prescriptions and enroll in notifications for when they're due. You can also sign up for Automated Courtesy Refills which will refill your qualifying prescriptions a few days before they run out and send a notification from Rite Aid when they're ready. Plus, by taking advantage of the OneTripRefills program, you'll be able to work with your Rite Aid Pharmacist to coordinate refill dates so everything is available for pick-up on the same day.
When was the last time you forgot to brush your teeth? Chances are, you do it every morning and night without thinking about it. Turning tasks into habits is an effective way to remember to include them in your daily schedule. Figure out regular times of day that work for you to take your medications and make that part of your routine. It might help to use another daily task as a reminder—take your medicine before your morning walk, after lunch, or while watching TV in the evening.
It's easy to ignore your medications when you're not taking them, but their home between doses is an important part of keeping them effective. Most medications will come with instructions for storage—typically labels advise preventing exposure to things like sunlight, heat, and moisture, so although your medicine cabinet may be in the bathroom, it may not be a good idea to keep prescriptions there. Some medications need to be kept cool or should be refrigerated between uses. Remember to check expiration dates and always dispose of old medicines.
Your medications need to be accessible to you. If you have a condition like arthritis, you may need pill bottles that are easier to open than the standard childproof containers that come with most medications. If you do switch to easy-open bottles, make sure to store them securely out of reach of small children and pets. Keep track of the number of pills remaining in a bottle so that if they're ever spilled you can be sure they're all accounted for.
Aside from dispensing your medication, your Rite Aid Pharmacist can help you with any questions or issues you have with your meds. It's not uncommon to have trouble swallowing a pill or distinguishing between two medications, and your pharmacist can offer effective alternatives as a solution. If you're having trouble reading medication labels, ask your pharmacist to print labels with larger text. Even for questions about nutritional supplements or vitamin needs, your Rite Aid Pharmacist is a great resource for responsible medication management.
By Joelle Klein
Pharmacy Times, The Top Medication Reminder Apps for Patients
US FDA.com, As You Age: You and Your Medicines
National Institute on Aging, Safe Use of Medicines for Older Adults
American Nurse Today, Preventing polypharmacy in older adults
Caring.com, 10 Medication Management Tips for Seniors
These articles are not a substitute for medical advice, and are not intended to treat or cure any disease. Advances in medicine may cause this information to become outdated, invalid, or subject to debate. Professional opinions and interpretations of scientific literature may vary. Consult your healthcare professional before making changes to your diet, exercise, or medication regime.