Medication Safety Ideas – Part I

My parents did well with their medications up to their mid to late 70’s.  Dad was responsible for getting the next day’s medications ready for both of them, the night before.  I helped out by submitting new prescriptions as well as the refills to the mail order Pharmacy; and since I lived about 6 hours away, I kept a schedule to remind me when I needed to do this.

On one of my every 6 week visits, I noticed that Dad was having challenges in taking care of this, so I suggested medication trays which would hold a week’s worth of  medication.   I found out that even with the tray, it was still going to be difficult, so I proposed a time-saving (as well as safer) idea .  I purchased 6 trays for each parent.  Each tray was labeled with their name and the dates for each week.  Coming every 6 weeks (and with the mail order medications being  dispensed in 3 month quantities), it worked out well for me to get all the trays filled up for 6 weeks at a time.  All they had to do was take pills from the specific section for that day of the week.  Over time, as Mom’s medical condition changed, (one of them being that Mom was accidentally leaving pills behind in the little sections of the tray) it became necessary to get more assistance for Mom; so she and Dad moved into an assisted living facility.

You may be taking care of aging parents or other family members who need medication assistance.  The trays worked well for my parents, and they might for you, but one still has to remember to take the medications.  The following are other types of medication reminders:  1) reminders integrated into home safety or monitoring devices, 2) electronic pill dispensing systems and 3) telephone reminders.   Costs will vary depending upon the type of system you decide to use.  To locate these types of systems, go “on-line” and search the words:  “medication dispensing reminders.”  You will be amazed at how much information you’ll find.  If you decide that an electronic dispensing system will work, be sure to consider the product’s upgradeability and service needs.

Lastly, be aware of what medications (Medications A-Z) are being taken, including:  Why?  Possible side effects; and any adverse reactions that can occur when taken with other medications.  Working together with the primary care doctor will also help to ensure safety with respect to the medications and possible interactions.  The key is being aware of the medication routine, if it’s being followed and if not, intervening before bigger problems develop.  It isn’t always easy to incorporate change, but most of us, (aging parents included) want to safely ‘age in place;’ and in order to do so, we need to include medication safety as well.

To succeed, jump as quickly at opportunities as you do at conclusions.”   Benjamin Franklin