Home health care is an important part of aging in place or living in your own home environment all of your life.
Medication safety and compliance is the number one concern with an aging loved one and home health care. We all have trouble remembering to take our pills. For the aging, they take multiple medications simultaneously. Aging individuals are prone to forgetfulness, so non-compliance is major concern.
The caregiver can help
If you are a caregiver, there are some steps you can take to improve your loved one's medication safety. Home health care and medication safety requires education of your aging loved one. It is important to stress taking medications at the proper time to treat their medical condition and avoid complications.
- It is important to make your loved one aware that taking over the counter medications, such as sleeping aids or allergy medicine may be dangerous. It is important to stress that these medications may cause an adverse reaction with their present medication regime.
- It is also important to advise your aging loved one to call the doctor or the pharmacist if they missed a dose or two of a medication. Do not assume that you should return to your original schedule.
- Always talk to your doctor before making any change in your medication routine. It is important that your loved one understand that just because they feel better or they are not experiencing the results they want as quickly as anticipated, they should not increase or decrease a medication.
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The next step is to put a medication system in place. There are multiple medication reminder systems out there to investigate. Depending on your aging loved one's function and medication regime there are simple written charts to more advanced technologies.
Simple methods are to use a pill box and place it where your loved one can see it. Some need cues or reminders, such as post it notes or pills strategically placed in the bathroom next to a toothbrush. This will be a gentle reminder to your aging loved one to take your pills.
- If there is more than one caregiver dispensing medications for your loved one, it is important to provide a chart that has the name of the medication, time of day that it is to be taken and any special instructions. Provide a sign off or check list for everyone that provides the medications.
- Some of the advanced technologies are so user friendly, from watches that will beep to remind you to take you pills to more advanced systems that will alert you to take your pills, dispense the correct pills, at the right time to your loved one. Some of these systems even notify the caregiver if a dose is missed.
- These advanced medication reminder systems offer peace of mind and comfort for the caregiver even from a long distance.
Home health care and medication safety is an ongoing concern for our aging loved one. Review of the medication system and its effectiveness is an ongoing process. Be aware of any signs of unusual symptoms so that your loved one can be assessed before the problem advances. Make home health care and medication safety a priority for the aging adult you are caring for.