The Doctor Is In: A Medication Management Guide For Caregivers
By: Dr. Ritu Suri
Caregiving for a loved one in general can be stressful. When your loved one is facing an illness, there is the added responsibility of properly managing their medications. As chronic medical conditions increase, so does the list of medications. Medication mismanagement is a leading cause of death, which makes proper medication management a top priority.
Medication management can be a daunting task. Here are some helpful tips to keep you organized.
- Medications can come in multiple forms, including pills, capsules, liquids, patches, creams, inhalers, injectables and chewables. They can be:
- Prescriptions: Prescribed by your doctor, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant.
- Over the counter: May or may not be recommended by your health care provider and are available without a prescription (i.e. Aspirin, Laxatives).
- Herbal: Vitamins, supplements, herbal teas, Ginkgo, Glucosamine, and chondroitin.
- Taking your medications:
- Order prescriptions and refills in a timely manner. Utilizing mail order for the long term is convenient and easy – ask your doctor or pharmacist for details.
- Store medications in a safe, dry place and check to see if they need to be refrigerated.
- Keep all medications away from children.
- Read all medication labels and instructions.
- Check for expiration dates and discard if necessary.
- Be sure to give the right medication at the right time in the right dose.
- Make sure no one else takes the medications – your medications should be taken only by you.
- If any negative side effects arise, call your doctor as soon as possible.
Good medication management starts with asking your health care provider (physician, nurse practitioner, physician assistant) a lot of questions. Below are some ways to help you work together with your medical team to manage your medications.
- Remind all health care providers of any allergies.
- Keep an up to date medication list. Be sure to remove old medications from the list.
- Bring all over the counter, herbal and prescription medications to every doctor’s appointment.
- Review your medication list with a health care provider every time there is a change and during your follow up visits, hospitalizations, or admissions to a skilled nursing center.
- Discuss possible side effects or other problems to look out for with your doctor.
- Cross-reference the names of the medications you receive from the pharmacy with the names on the prescriptions written by your doctor (they may be different).
- Mention any problems swallowing pills or otherwise taking your medications. If needed, the medications can be crushed or changed to a liquid format for more suitable consumption.
- Discuss with your doctor or social worker if you have issues with the cost of medications. There might be inexpensive alternatives or certain programs that provide financial assistance for necessary medications.
This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
About Dr. Suri
Dr. Suri is a Board Certified Geriatrician, Medical Director, Family Medicine Practitioner and Hospice and Palliative Medicine Practitioner. She founded a geriatric consultation private practice in Bergen County, NJ and serves as an Attending Physician at CareOne at Valley, located in Westwood, NJ. Dr. Suri is a member of the American Medical Directors Association, Bergen Indian Medical Association, American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, American Board of Quality Assurance and Utilization Review and American Association of Physician Leaders.