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Caregiverʼs Guide to Medications and Aging

Tips for Handling Polypharmacy Every Caregiver Needs to Know

If you are a caregiver, you are likely familiar with the variety of medications your loved one takes for their specific ailments. The technical term for one person taking a variety of medicines for one or more conditions is polypharmacy. And, while each medication has its purpose in keeping your charge healthy, recalling a schedule of treatment regimens and prescriptions can be overwhelming. Here are a few tips to help to deal with polypharmacy as a caregiver in New York and other states: 

Create a List and Update it as Needed

Create a list of all of the medications taken by your loved one. The list should include the name of the medication and the dosage. Every time a doctor prescribes a new medication or discontinues an older medication, Make copies of this list or keep it on your phone to ensure that it is available for medical appointments. Most doctors will ask for a list of medications to get an idea of your loved one's health and conditions. It is also important for doctors to know what medications your loved one is taking so that they don't inadvertently prescribe a medication that can either hinder one of their existing medications or cause unpleasant side effects when combined with existing medication. 

Set a Schedule That Works

Having a schedule can help keep the medications organized and ensures that your loved one never misses a dose. While you can try to keep everything in your head, it is far easier to note it down. You can make a paper schedule, or set one up on your phone, which might allow you to also set alarms to remind yourself that it's to administer a certain medication; choose whatever feels the most convenient. It also helps to note a brief description of the medication to help you avoid mixups.  For instance, if your loved one takes many oral medications, you can note the shape and color of the pill or any distinctive markings. If you are using eye drops or injections in addition to oral medication, note that as well. Again, every time a medication is added or changed, you'll need to update the schedule to ensure that you are staying on top of everything. 

Consider Pill Prepping

You may be able to set up medications via an organizer for each day of the week. Some medication organizers will even allow you to separate the medications by the time of day, which is great for medications that need to be taken more than once per day. This works well if you have many different medications that you need to administer and will save you time during the week. Take a moment one day per week to prepare the medications to help save yourself time. 

An organizer is also very helpful if you are leaving your loved one for a portion of the day when they may need to self-medicate. 

Share the List and Schedule with Any New Caregivers

Whether you have a family member who is offering to help or are hiring a professional caregiver to offer respite care, make sure that you share both the list and the schedule of medications. This will help ensure that your loved one doesn't miss a dose of a medicine that they need and will help the caregiver during any potential doctor's appointments and emergencies. If you have a medications organizer, consider setting that up as well. 

Ask Questions and Take Notes

Don't be afraid to ask questions at doctor's appointments, especially if the doctor is changing or adding a medication. You should also be prepared to write down notes, especially if the medication requires specific administration. If your loved one needs a medication that is complicated to administer, ask your doctor about any additional training that you can receive. 

Whether you are a caregiver in New York City, or anywhere else, following a few simple tips can make your loved one's medications much easier to handle which will help you ensure that you are properly caring for your loved one's health needs. If you are looking for help caring for a loved one, contact us today for our experienced list of professionals. 

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