Build a Backup Medication Supply for Emergencies at No Extra Cost

backup medicine

Missing medication doses is dangerous for seniors

Many seniors take multiple medications to manage chronic health conditions.

Taking these medications as prescribed is essential for maintaining their health. Skipped doses could make them sick or even send them to the hospital.

That’s why it’s a good idea to keep extra medicine on hand.

In case something happens to your older adult’s existing supply or if their regular refills aren’t available on time, you can rely on that extra supply until they can get a refill.

We explain why seniors might want to keep extra medicine on hand and how to build up an emergency supply without spending additional money.


A backup medicine supply gives peace of mind

Being prepared with extra medication on hand saves time, energy, anxiety, and sometimes even money. 

Having a backup medication supply means not needing to worry about your older adult’s health if they can’t get a refill and not having to pay full retail price to get more if the drug is absolutely essential.

Common situations that prevent on-time prescription refills:

  • Severe weather conditions make going out unsafe or disrupt pharmacy shipments.
  • The pharmacy is temporarily out of stock of that medication.
  • There’s a glitch in the system and insurance won’t cover the medication until things get straightened out…in days or weeks.
  • You‘re too sick to leave the house.
  • Nobody is available to drive to the pharmacy.


Build up an extra medicine supply at no extra cost

Fortunately, it shouldn’t cost extra to build up a backup medication supply and you won’t have to convince doctors to write additional prescriptions.

Most insurance companies (including Medicare) allow prescription refills in 25 days, so you don’t have to wait a full month to get a refill.

If you request and pick up prescription refills as soon as they’re available each month, this shortens the time between refills and you’ll find that there will be extra doses left over each month.

With several days of extra medication each month, an extra medication supply will quickly add up. Soon, you’ll have plenty of extra medicine on hand as backup.

To help you stay on top of the monthly refill timing, ask the pharmacist exactly when your older adult is eligible for prescription refills under their insurance plan. Then, mark your calendar so you’ll know exactly when to request the refill each month.

Also, many major drugstores often have automatic refill programs that typically send reminders as soon as the medication is eligible for refill.


Store the extra medicine safely and securely

It’s a good idea to store the extra medication separately so it doesn’t get mixed in with your older adult’s regular supply and you’ll be able to track the expiration dates.

It’s also important to securely store any controlled medications like painkillers to avoid problems.

To keep medication from expiring, you may want to occasionally use the extra (older) medicine and replenish the backup supply from recent refills.


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By DailyCaring Editorial Team
Image: American Training


  • Reply October 27, 2020

    Phyllis Denison

    Unfortunately the company, Express Scripts, will not permit us to keep an emergency supply of prescription drugs on hand = they will not pay for them. One of my prescriptions costs $900 for a 90 day supply and so, can’t afford to fill it and pay for it and again = the rules set by Express Scripts will not allow my pharmacy to fill it.

    • Reply November 5, 2020


      In the article, we’re not suggesting getting an extra medication order. What we suggest is to be proactive about getting prescription refills as soon as they’re available, often in 25 days.

      Most of us are so busy that we might forget about ordering a refill until the medication is almost running out. Getting the refill before 30 days means that there will be a few extra doses left over each month, which add up over time.

      For mail order services, this will depend on when they allow you to put in the order for refills or if they do it automatically. Even with a 90 day supply, many insurance companies will allow refills in fewer than 90 days. Over time, even a few days can make a difference.

  • Reply May 17, 2018


    This system also is practical for those that may have no way to get to a pharmacy, For whatever reason, they no longer drive; public transportation may not be available.

    • Reply May 17, 2018


      Excellent point! If transportation isn’t available when a refill is needed, having some backup medication means having more flexibility.

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