Monitoring Medication Intake

When caring for an aging loved one, medications are the first thing you should review.

Ask your senior if you can review their medications. Be sure to read every label. Look for how many pills were ordered, and how often they are meant to be taken.

Check the dates on the prescription label—when was it filled? When will it expire? Check these dates against the directions and number of pills ordered. Do the math. A prescription for 90 pills was filled 10 days ago—the directions say to take one pill three times daily. How many pills should be left? Be aware that the number may not be exact (many people do not begin taking medication on the same day they fill the prescription) but it should be close. If your gut says something is not right, listen to it.

Taking the right medications can make a dramatic difference in behaviors, falls and cognition. Ask the following questions:

  • Are your loved one’s orders current?
  • Are they being taken as ordered?
  • Is there more than one pill for the same diagnosis?
  • Does the primary healthcare provider know what is being taken? (Often, when multiple doctors are being seen, they may be prescribing medications independent of each other.)

Consider taking a complete list of your senior’s medications to their primary healthcare provider or their pharmacy, and ask them to check the list for possible negative drug interactions. Ask them to consider reductions in the number of medications or their dosage. Is the list current and accurate?  Make sure you know both the generic and brand names for medications so there is no confusion or duplication. If your senior does not have a pill dispenser, consider setting them up with one, so you can both keep track of what they should be taking when. 

Seek home care or care management assistance if you or your senior need further help. A Helping Hand Homecare serves seniors in towns and cities in the greater King County area, including south to Auburn and Federal Way, north to Lynnwood and Woodinville, east to Bellevue and Issaquah, and west to Edmonds and Seattle. Call or email us for a free consultation, 206-686-7440 or 877-281-7111.