Recent studies in North America estimate that as many as 50% of medications prescribed to seniors are not taken as directed. The fact remains that many people simply forget to take them. It can be a challenge to remember what you took, when you took it, and what time you need to take it next, especially if you have several prescriptions on different schedules. This situation is exacerbated by conditions which reduce mental stability and alertness such as Alzheimer’s disease and/or dementia.
Consider these five tips to stay on track with your loved one’s medication schedule to get the best results:
Use technology to help
Technology is all around us, so why not take advantage of it for everyday things such as medication reminders? If you have a mobile device, you can easily set up a recurring alarm or notification that can remind you when it’s time to take your medication. You can even download a free medication reminder app which will help keep things organized. Many smartphones also come pre-installed with this technology, just a tap away.
Create a routine
Routines are key to forming habits that you can remember. Try to combine your medication schedule with something that you regularly do every day. For instance, try to take your medications before you brush your teeth, or perhaps every evening when The Wheel of Fortune comes on. When your medication schedule is tied to another activity, it becomes part of your everyday routine just like making the bed or walking the dog. This makes it easier and far less stressful to remember which medications you need to take at certain times.
Use a pill box or blister pack
A pillbox (also called a pill organizer) is a simple way to keep your medicine organized. If you forget whether you’ve taken your dose for the day, you can simply check to see whether the pill slot for that day is empty or not. Some pillboxes also come with built-in timers and other features. Depending on the complexity of your medicine schedule, you can purchase a simple 7-slot pill box (one for each day of the week), or more complex organizers with slots for morning, afternoon, evening, and bedtime. Most pharmacies also put your combination of medication in pre-arranged packets so that you can just open a packet at each prescribed time and everything you need to take is organized together. It’s never been so hassle-free and easy to keep your medication organized, no matter how many different pills you need to take!
Keep medication visible
Out of sight generally means out of mind. In the case of medications, this can result in health issues including serious complications or even medical emergencies. It’s therefore crucial to keep your medication in an easy-to-spot area. Try to pick a spot to keep your pills so that they are visible and easy for you to notice. That way anytime you walk by you’ll have a reminder. Another great solution is to get a pill box that is brightly colored and impossible to ignore. Just remember to keep it in a place where you’ll always see it but not for young children, in case your grandchildren or other young visitors stop in.
Leave sticky notes
It may sound old-fashioned, but what if you are prefer not to use any of the gadgets? A great substitute for tech-based reminders is to write and leave sticky notes detailing your schedule in places you frequent. Try leaving them beside your bed on the nightstand, in the bathroom beside the mirror, on the fridge, near the television, and beside the door leading outside. Be sure to use bright-coloured paper and write with a black marker, so that it can be read clearly and seen from a distance.
Regardless of whether you have a smartphone, plug-in alarm clock, or timer, try setting alarms for when you need to take your medication. This is helpful if you have different types of medication but simply can’t risk forgetting to take them. Be sure to have a family member or in-home caregiver help you set everything up if you need assistance – the aim is to simply hit a button, take your medication, and not have to think about it until the alarm goes off the next time!
What’s family for, if not for reminding us to do things we often forget? If the above options aren’t ideal or working for you, try reaching out to a loved one or family member for assistance. Even a quick phone call or text each day to check in on whether you’ve taken your medication can protect you from forgetting. Your personal care manager can also review and administer medications to ensure you take the correct dosage at the right time.
When you forget about or are confused with your medication dosages and/or schedules, it can prevent you getting the optimal results that your doctor intended. It can also be dangerous if the medication is essential to your health or if you are taking double doses out of forgetfulness.
If you have any questions about medication reminders or would like to learn more about how your personal care manager or in-home caregiver can assist, call Choice Homecare at 613-907-3191.