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Medication Management Tips for Seniors

Healthcare | July 9, 2024

An older man using a pill organizer after following medication management tips.

As we age, most of us will need to take multiple medications to manage our health. Those medications play an important role in our wellbeing, but mismanaging medications can have serious consequences.

Keeping track of every medication can quickly become overwhelming, but there are steps you can take to simplify this process. Here are four ways that you can use to make it easier to manage your medications.

Make a Master Medication List

It can be difficult to keep track of every medication, especially when you start taking new ones. One of the best ways to ensure that medications don’t get lost in the shuffle is to create a comprehensive, up-to-date list of everything you take. That includes:

  • Prescriptions
  • Over-the-counter drugs
  • Vitamins
  • Supplements

Keeping a detailed list of your medications to help you and your loved ones stay informed and assist doctors with future prescriptions.

Additionally, include specific details about each medication to avoid forgetting important information and to help anyone assisting you. Try to include the following details in your master medication list:

  • Name of medication (both brand name and generic name)
  • Reason for using medication
  • Dosages
  • How to take medication 
  • When to take medication

Review Your Medications

Making a list of all your medications is a great first step, but it’s also important for you and your doctor to check that list over time. There are a few reasons why you should regularly review everything on your list: 

  • Add and remove medications. Your medications can change over time, but your list won’t unless you update it. Try and review your list once a month so that you and your doctor have an accurate account of everything that you’re currently taking.
  • Check for redundancies. Some people accidentally take different medications that address the same issue. A regular review can help you identify if there are any items that are no longer needed. 
  • Avoid dangerous interactions. Combining certain medications can cause unpleasant side effects when combined. Having an accurate list of your medication can help your doctor identify potential problems and adjust your prescriptions accordingly.

Organize Medication

A little organization can make taking medication a lot easier. Having to sift through a bunch of pill bottles or other containers can be stressful. Here are some tools and tips that can make it easier to manage your medication, vitamins, and supplements:

  • Use pill box organizers. These convenient trays allow you to separate anything you take by day and time so that you can organize your medications for the coming week. You can also opt for organizers with large compartments and different colors for easier use.
  • Try color-coding or labeling. If you prefer not to use pill boxes, you can still use different stickers or labels to differentiate between different medications. These visual cues can be used for different days, dosages, or other details to reduce the chances of mix-ups.
  • Designate a medication spot. Having your medications, vitamins, and supplements spread across multiple spots makes it more likely to forget or lose them. Choose one or two spots, such as a specific drawer or a basket on your bathroom counter, as the go-to spot to keep everything. Just make sure that wherever you choose is safe and can’t be accessed by any pets or children.
  • Invest in automatic pill dispensers. These devices streamline the medication management process by dispensing medications at different times. You’ll need to program the dispenser to know what to dole out and when, but setting that up in advance can save you some time and hassle in the future.

Set a Daily Medication Routine

You can forget about taking different medication, vitamins, and supplements when it’s not a regular habit. Creating a regular routine that includes your medication can turn taking pills or supplements into a regular part of life instead of an annoying extra task. Try using the following tactics to work medication management into your routine.

  • Take your medication with meals. There are several medications that should be taken after eating, so taking pills with breakfast, lunch, or dinner is a very common routine.
  • Time up medication with other daily activities. Consider timing up taking pills with activities like brushing your teeth, especially if you store your pills, vitamins, and supplements near that task.
  • Use visual reminders. You don’t want your medication to end up out of sight and out of mind. If you can’t keep your medication in a clearly visible spot, try leaving notes or other visual reminders on your bathroom mirror, refrigerator, or other spots you regularly see.
  • Set up alerts. Technology can help you stay on track for all your medications. Consider setting up reminders on your phone, tablet, or desktop device so that you receive prompts to take your medication at the right time.
  • Have a family member or friend remind you. A bit of teamwork can go a long way. Let a loved one know when you need to take medication so that they can help remind you just in case you forget about your routine.

Make it Easier to Manage Your Medication

Putting all the pieces in place to manage your medication is a massive step forward, but sometimes you need some more help to take your different drugs, vitamins, and supplements. The following tools and resources can make this process a lot more manageable.

  • Pill cutters and crushers. Some pills are harder to swallow than others. These tools can break up big pills to make them much easier to take.
  • Liquid medications. If you struggle with swallowing pills or they can’t be broken down, a liquid version might help. Check with your pharmacist to see if any problem pills are available in a version that is easier to swallow.
  • Medication synchronization. Managing several prescriptions can be both time consuming and frustrating, especially if you need to make multiple trips to pick up your medications. Check to see if your pharmacy offers medication synchronization so that all your prescriptions are filled at the same time.
  • In-home caregiving. It’s not uncommon for seniors to need support as they get older. In-home caregivers can monitor medication schedules and pick up prescriptions to help you when you need it.
  • Senior living. Some senior living communities offer support for needs like medication management. There are several benefits of senior living communities, and the right place can help reduce your responsibilities and live your ideal lifestyle. 

Need help with medication management or trying to find the right senior living community? We can help. National Church Residences supports tens of thousands of seniors across the country and strives to help aging adults live vibrant, independent lives.

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