Sticking to a medication schedule or keeping a loved one on track can be tough, especially when you are the caregiver for a senior who doesn’t live with you. Because older adults often take multiple medicines each day, it’s easy to see how mistakes happen. Researchers say 41% of seniors take 5 or more medications every day! Between dosages, times, and refills, it’s a lot to organize.
Some of the most common issues seniors encounter when it comes to managing their medication schedule include:
- Difficulty ordering medication refills
- Trouble getting to and from the pharmacy
- Problems reading small print on medication labels
- Struggles with tough-to-open bottles
- Remembering which medication to take and when
These difficulties can add up to big trouble for older adults. In fact, medication errors are one of the leading reasons so many of our seniors end up in a hospital emergency room. According to the National Academy of Medicine, mistakes with medication send 770,000 adults a year to the hospital. Some forget to take a dose on time, while others might accidentally take too much.
If you or a senior in your life is struggling with medication management, here are a few tips and tools you may find useful.
Ways to Organize a Senior Loved One’s Medications
- Pharmacy blister packs: Talk with your local pharmacist or the mail order pharmacy your insurance uses to see if they can set up punch cards or blister packs. These simple packaging solutions separate medications by day and time of dosage. When it’s time to take a medication, the user only has to push the pill through a foil or paper covering on the back of the pack. No more struggling to get the lid off pill bottles!
- Reminder calls or alerts: If you or an older family member often forgets to take medications, set up a recurring smart phone alert as a reminder. You can call or text them when you get the alert. There are also services, like Medication Call Reminder and Sage Minder, that offer automated phone calls at dosage times.
- Medication apps: Smart phone users can also explore medication apps that provide a reminder. Dosecast and Medisafe Medication Management are two apps that can remind an individual when it’s time to take their pills.
- Electronic pill dispensers: Another solution to explore is electronic pill dispensers. These comprehensive products utilize wireless technology to sound an alert and open when it’s time to take a medication. They can open just the compartment containing the necessary pill. For safety, the system can text or call a contact person if a senior misses a dose.
Finally, remember to dispose of medications that are no longer needed. People tend to hang on to medications in case they might need them again in the future. It’s usually best to get rid of anything not currently prescribed for the senior to prevent a dangerous mix-up or the medicine falling into the wrong hands. This article will help you figure out the best way to dispose of old medications.
Medication Management at Heritage Senior Communities
At Heritage Senior Communities, medication management is one of our most utilized services. Our professional caregivers handle all of the details, including dispensing medicines at the appropriate time. Call the Heritage location nearest you to learn more!
My mother recently passed away after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease. It was such a tough period for her and everyone who loved her. She lived with my husband and me for 3 years before she moved to one of the wonderful Heritage dementia care communities. During her illness, I often wondered if there is anything I can do to prevent getting this disease. It was so difficult to watch her decline.
I’ve read articles that say Alzheimer’s might actually be a form of diabetes, but that the research is still inconclusive. Other information I’ve read says smoking might contribute to the disease. Then there are those that say exercise—both mental and physical—might be the key. My diet is pretty healthy and I’ve never been a smoker, but I’d like to know more about exercise.
Do you know of any credible research that shows a link between Alzheimer’s prevention and exercise?
Chris in Saginaw, MI
Lifestyle Factors and Alzheimer’s Prevention
First, my condolences on the loss of your mother. Alzheimer’s is a tough disease that impacts the entire family. After witnessing what your mother went through, it’s understandable that you would be concerned about your own risk.
Exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. We commonly associate it with helping to prevent or manage medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and even depression. But there is research that seems to indicate physical activity might play a role in preventing or delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
It’s important to remember, however, that brain health is a complicated topic. While much of the science related to Alzheimer’s is not definitive, there is evidence that links cognitive health with an individual’s overall wellness. According to Harvard Medical School, practicing a healthy lifestyle might be one way to protect yourself. Researchers from the Alzheimer’s Research Foundation agree.
Since you mentioned exercise specifically, I’m sharing a few tips researchers think might impact brain health. If you haven’t been engaging in physical activity lately, it’s always a good idea to talk with your primary care physician before getting started.
- Combine cardio with strength training: Create an exercise regimen that incorporates both moderate aerobic activity with strength training. This combination not only helps protect brain health, but also reduces your risk for falls and increases flexibility and endurance. (As the years go by, we are all at higher risk of falling unless we stay active.)
- Aim for 150 minutes of exercise each week: Set a goal to engage in physical activities at least 150 minutes each week. Many find exercising 30 minutes 5 days a week a realistic schedule. And it doesn’t need to be 30 continuous minutes. You can break it up if you need to. You might want to jump-start the day with 15 minutes of aerobic activity in the morning, and then wind down with 15 minutes of yoga or Pilates towards the evening.
- Track your progress every day: Finally, hold yourself accountable. At the end of each day, document what type of physical activity you engaged in and for how long. It might help to find a workout buddy or two to help you stay motivated.
This article has more information about how to reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s by up to 50% with regular exercise.
I hope this information is useful, Chris!