Medication Management for Seniors: Helpful Tips & Strategies

May 8, 2024
Aging hand on grab bar

For seniors, aging at home can be very beneficial for mental and physical health. But it can also come with its challenges, especially for families and loved ones helping administer their medications. Medication management for seniors can feel complicated and overwhelming, especially if there are many different types to keep organized.

In this post, we’ll be sharing some helpful tips and strategies you can implement today to keep your elderly loved one on track with their medications. By implementing these strategies, you can promote a safe, well-balanced life for the senior in your care.

Understanding Medication Needs

Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to the clinical needs of your elderly loved one. Take the time to discuss any prescribed medications with their healthcare provider, exactly what they do, potential side effects, and when they should be administered each day.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions and take notes. You can also request a drug information sheet from their doctor to have on hand at home.

Common types of medications prescribed to aging adults include:

  • Blood Pressure Medications: Used to manage hypertension, reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular-related risks.
  • Statin Medications: Prescribed to control cholesterol levels and lower the risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • Diabetes Medications: Used to manage blood sugar levels in individuals with diabetes and prevent complications such as neuropathy, kidney disease, and cardiovascular issues.
  • Pain Relievers: Medications like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), acetaminophen, and opioids help alleviate pain associated with conditions like arthritis, injuries, and surgeries.
  • Anticoagulants / Antiplatelet Agents: These medications prevent blood clots and reduce the risk of stroke, heart attack, and other thromboembolic issues.

While these medications are commonly prescribed to aging adults, keep in mind that each person is unique, and as such, their medications will be unique to them.

Medication Organization Tips

Medication management for seniors can be complex. Your aging parents or grandparents might be struggling to keep up with their medication organization and schedule, which is understandable. Some pills look alike, some require an empty stomach, and some need to be taken at specific times of day.

Create a Medication Schedule

Learning something new doesn’t have to stop at a certain age. The pursuit of lifelong learning challenges your brain in amazing ways throughout life, building new neural connections and enhancing memory. By picking up a new hobby, skill, or craft, like an instrument or second language, people with dementia can ward off the progression of cognitive decline while fostering a sense of personal satisfaction.

Just like a senior meal plan, a medication schedule that’s simple and easy to follow helps ensure they take their medications safely and on time.

Start by compiling a comprehensive list of all medications, including prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, and supplements. Keep the list updated and easily accessible to you.

Here are some additional tips for creating a schedule:

  • Use a simple medication log template to create your schedule. You can find convenient downloadables here.
  • Keep a copy at your senior loved one’s residency, in a visible location.
  • Keep a copy where you live, in an accessible location.
  • Take a photo or scan of the list and keep it in your cell phone for fast access.

Use a Pill Organizer or Medication Box

Purchase a pill organizer or medication box with compartments for each day of the week or multiple times per day, depending on the medication regimen. You can find affordable pill organizers around $5 to $20.

Make sure to fill the organizer at the beginning of each week, following your medication schedule. It’s helpful to label each compartment with the day of the week or time of day to prevent confusion. Color-coded organizers or clear labeling are useful for this.

Establish a Reminder System

Now that you’ve created a medication schedule and organized the pills in a customized organizer, it’s time to set up a reminder system for staying on schedule.

There are many different ways to set reminders for your aging parents or grandparents, so find the one that’s most effective for them.

Set up alarms on a smartphone, tablet, watch, or digital assistant like Alexa or Google Home to alert your loved one when it’s time to take their medication.

Try a medication reminder app designed for managing medication schedules, which can send notifications and provide refill reminders.

Consider a programmable pill dispenser like this one if your senior is struggling to stay on track. Some dispensers have locking features to prevent accidental overdoses.

Regularly check in with your elderly loved one to make sure they’re taking the correct pills on time. Try to establish a hard-and-fast routine for them, which will be important for memory and consistency.

Safe Administration & Monitoring Practices

Safe administration of medications to seniors is of the utmost importance in preventing any complications. Caregivers should always follow guidelines for proper dosage, timing, and administration techniques provided by healthcare professionals or outlined on medication labels.

Gain an understanding of whether the medications should be taken with food or on an empty stomach, and any specific instructions for timing. When in doubt, seek the advice of a healthcare professional.

Finally, try to stay vigilant after your loved one takes their medication to ensure there aren’t any complications or new side effect patterns. Keep track of any changes in their health status and communicate them promptly to their healthcare team. They can offer guidance on adjusting medication dosages or alternative treatments.

Get Professional Caregivers & Health Providers Involved

Seeking professional caregiver assistance can alleviate the burden of medication management for seniors and their families. Professional caregivers are trained to provide comprehensive support in organizing, administering, and monitoring medications so that seniors receive their treatments safely. By enlisting the help of qualified caregivers, families can have peace of mind knowing that their loved ones are receiving the best possible care.

To find qualified caregivers, consider reaching out to reputable at-home care agencies like Sitters LLC, which specialize in matching caregivers with seniors based on their unique needs and preferences. Bringing a professional caregiver on board can transform the quality of care provided to seniors and promote their overall well-being.

Ready to make sure your senior loved one receives the best possible care? Contact our team at Sitters LLC to explore our professional caregiver services and discover how we can support you in elderly medication management and beyond.