Keeping medicines straight can be difficult for seniors
Getting prescriptions from your older adult’s doctor is just the tip of the iceberg for maintaining their health.
Taking all medications exactly the way they were prescribed is essential for keeping seniors as healthy, comfortable, and independent as possible. It can be dangerous to take certain medicines at the wrong time, too much of one drug, or in the wrong combinations.
We’ve got helpful tips and a simple DIY medication management chart. These help seniors keep all their medicines straight so they’ll be sure to take the right pills at the right time of day.
Why seniors have trouble with medication management
Even if they’re mostly independent, older adults may struggle with taking their medicine correctly.
Reasons for this include:
- Too many medications with different timing are hard to keep track of
- Drug names are too complex to remember clearly
- Vision problems – not being able to read the small labels on medicine bottles
- Language barriers – not able to read well in English
Simple DIY chart helps seniors take medicine correctly
Creating a simple DIY chart makes it easy to see the timing of each dose of medication. Here’s how to do it.
1. Label medicine bottles and caps with big colored dots or stickers
- Put a large colored dot or sticker on the medicine bottle and cap
- Use the same sticker for the bottle and cap to avoid any mix ups
- Here are some colored dot options in many colors and sizes
- Make sure the stickers or dots are easily differentiated from each other. Don’t use anything too similar in color or pattern.
- For more options, get a variety of stickers – happy face, star, dogs, hearts, cats, etc.
2. Match the stickers on the medicine bottle/cap with stickers on a big chart
- Create a chart on a piece of poster board with the time of day, medication, and anything they need to take the pills with
- Make it easy to read at a glance, even with poor vision. We recommend printing clearly in large letters.
Here an example of what a simple medication chart might look like. The first row describes what we put in each column. Customize your chart so it will make sense to your older adult. Use whatever will work best for them – pictures, words, more/less info.
|Time of day or meal||Sticker matching one on medicine bottle||Take medicine with||Medication name or body part it helps (optional)|
|Breakfast and a full glass of water||Prinivil|
(for blood pressure)
|2 crackers and small glass of milk||Coumadin|
(for heart health)
|Dinner and a glass of water||Vicodin|
(for arthritis pain)
Xalatan eye drops
Review the chart with your older adult
Attach the chart in a visible location next to the medicine. Explain to your older adult how this new system works and how it makes it easier for them take their medicine correctly with no stress.
Slowly walk through how the stickers on the bottles match the ones on the chart. Discuss what you’ve written in each box and make sure they understand the words and images you’ve used.
Most older adults welcome simple systems like these that help them stay healthy and maintain their independence. Plus, you won’t have to spend time trying to quiz them about whether or not they took their medicine.
You might also like:
— Did They Take Their Pills? 4 Pill Organizers for Senior Medication Safety
— Medications Seniors Should Avoid: The Beers List
— Medications Worsen Dementia and Increase Dementia Risk: Anticholinergics
By DailyCaring Editorial Team
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