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5 Tips for Managing Medications

Ready for some alarming statistics?

  • The average American between ages 65 and 69 takes 14 medications on a regular basis per year.
  • For adults between ages 80 and 84, that number goes to 18.
  • Adults over age 65 are most likely to take medications incorrectly—and as many as 60 percent of people who take five or more medications a day make mistakes.

Now, these numbers include all adults, including those in good health. Some of those 14 prescriptions may be for seasonal allergies or pain medication taken after a tumble. But nearly half of older adults with caregivers take between five and nine different prescriptions a day. When your loved one relies on medications to stay out of the hospital, adherence—taking the right medicine, in the right amount, at the right time—is very important.

Many caregivers say that managing those medications is a huge source of stress. These tips can help:

Keep everyone’s medications in different places.

If your mom stores her medications in one cabinet and your dad’s in another, she’s less likely to grab the wrong bottles by mistake. But be sure that all of your mom’s medications are together, and same for your dad’s.

Ask about blister packs or convenient packaging.

All pharmacies can give any medications in blister packs rather than in bottles. Packs are usually numbered from 1 to 30 so you can easily tell if that day’s pill has been taken. Some people find that it’s easier to pop a pill out of the seal than unscrew a cap. You don’t have to worry about the bottles getting knocked over or pills spilling.

Some pharmacies dispense medication by day or time of dose. You get several small packets with different pills in them. The packets are numbered and marked with time and other important information.

Use different colored pillboxes.

Put daytime medications in a bright yellow pillbox and use a dark blue box for nighttime ones. You’ll have a visual reminder to help keep timing straight.

Set alarms.

Use the alarm setting on a phone and wristwatch, or use regular alarm clocks. Or look for pillboxes that have built-in alarms.

Look into a service.

Is your loved one’s medication regimen incredibly complex or are memory issues a concern? Look into a service to help with managing medications. MedMinder sends caregivers alerts if your loved one skips a dose. Programmable medication dispensers release medications at  set times. They can also alert family if a medication isn’t taken on schedule.

Download our free guide for more information about medication safety