How to Help Aging Parents Manage their Medications
What tips or tools can you recommend to help seniors and their caregivers keep up with medications? My mother, who lives alone, is supposed to take several different medications at various times of the day but often forgets.
Anyone who juggles multiple medications can relate to the problem of forgetting to take their medicine, or not remembering whether they already took it. This is especially true for older adults who take medications at varying times of the day. Here are some different product and service solutions that may help.
Being organized and setting reminders are the two keys to staying on top of a medication schedule. To help your mom achieve this, there are a wide variety of pillboxes, medication organizers, vibrating watches, beeping pill bottles and dispensers with audio alerts that can make all the difference.
Simple Medication Helpers
You can help your mom stay organized by creating a simple medication list that breaks down exactly what she should take and when she should take it. The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists has a free printable resource. You can download and print a copy of “My Medicine List” at SafeMedication.com.
Smart Pill Boxes
There are also a variety of “smart” pill boxes on the market today that will remind your mom when she needs to take her medicine. It will also send family members and caregivers notifications if she forgets to take her pills or accidentally takes the wrong ones.
A few smart pill box options include Tricella, PillDrill and MedMinder. The prices range from approximately $200 to $300 or monthly subscriptions ranging from $40 to $65 a month. Some smart pill boxes require monthly subscription services. Most smart pill boxes require connectivity with a smart phone or tablet with either a data plan or Wi-Fi access. The more expensive models provide comprehensive pill tracking which helps for those on a strict medication schedule.
Another way to help simplify your mom’s medicine is to find a pharmacy that offers prescriptions in single-dose packets. This packaging option may allow her in also include vitamins and over-the-counter drugs. Typically the single-dose packets are organized by date and the time of day they should be taken. This does away with all the pill bottles and pill sorting if you find a pharmacy that offers the service.
Apps and Calling Services
If your mom has a smartphone, there are apps she could use to help her keep up with her medication. One of the top rated apps is Medisafe which is a free app offered on Apple and Android phones. Medisafe will track your mom’s pill schedule, send her timely notifications to take her meds and send her reminders to fill her prescriptions.
Caregivers can also connect with the Medisafe app to receieve notifications about when it is time for their loved ones to take their medication and they can see whether or not it has been marked as taken.
If your mom does not use a smartphone, there are also calling services, which provide medication reminding calls. These types of services will call your mom at the scheduled times to reminder her that she needs to take her medication. If she fails to answer or acknowledge the call, a family member or caregiver will be contacted. Services like this typically cost between $15 and $20 per month.
Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living" book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization's official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.