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Supporting the elderly in managing their medications

Supporting the elderly in managing their medications

Most seniors take multiple medications simultaneously to treat different medical conditions. Hence, it is important to know how to help our loved ones administer their medication properly and avoid some of the common medication mistakes.

Here are some things to take note of:

1. Ensure that it is the correct medication

Prescription drugs may sometimes have names that are hard to understand or are confusing because they look similar in size, shape or colour. Storing and labelling medicines properly or sorting daily medications in advance using an organizer can prevent the wrong medications from being taken.


When packing and sorting medications, always look out for their expiry dates. Taking expired medication would hinder the effectiveness of the drug. Be mindful that some medications might need to be handled differently as they are sensitive to light or air.


2. Take the correct dose of medication at the correct time

Ensure that your loved one only takes their medications as prescribed and not overdose on any medication. Many medications need to be taken at specific times for them to be effective. If your loved one has many different medications to keep track of, using a pill box with compartments labelled morning, afternoon and evening may help. This allows you or your loved one to be mindful of different prescription instructions without getting confused.


3. Help them stick to their treatment plan

Medications need to be taken consistently to be effective in managing your loved one’s condition. Helping your loved one understand the benefits and risks of each medication may increase his/her motivation to keep to the prescription. Some elderly do not realise the importance of the medication in managing their conditions and may intentionally skip their medicines because they do not believe the medicines would help.


Reassuring and helping them understand the purpose of the prescription would help them stick to the treatment plan. At the same time, you could also find out if they have other concerns regarding the medications such as bad experiences or side effects. Side effects can often be managed or prevented as doctors can prescribe a different medication if the side effects are intolerable.


It is important that your loved one continues taking their medicine at the same time and same dosage as prescribed by the doctor, unless directed otherwise. Ensure they don’t skip their medicine even if they feel better as conditions such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure can threaten their health even if they may feel fine.


4. Make medication administration easier

If your loved one is largely independent, a daily check-in or reminder to prompt him/her regarding medications might be sufficient. If he/she requires more help, you may need to assist in administering the medication and ensuring that your loved one takes the medication correctly and on time.


Make it easier for them to consume their medication by keeping medication in easy to open containers or pill boxes, and check with the pharmacist if hard-to-swallow medication can be cut or grinded, or be in another form such as a liquid solution.


It is a good practice to keep a list of the medication names, purposes, prescription instructions and medication allergies with you. This would be useful for the doctors, nurses or other medical professionals to understand your loved one’s condition better. Always review the medication list after a doctor’s visit.


5. Seek assistance if needed

Keeping to the treatment plan is important but can sometimes be complicated and confusing. Feel free to talk to the doctor, the pharmacist or the nurse if you have any doubt or problem regarding the medications.


Do you know that you can use the Carer app to manage your medications and hire a local registered nurse for medication packing? You can also get other care tips on the app. Download the Carer app or call us to find out more.


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