It’s not uncommon for a patient to be diagnosed with more than one health condition. In fact, two-thirds of older adults in the U.S. are living with multiple chronic illnesses. This can be burdensome on the patient and the caregiver. Treatment options can become overwhelming, as each health condition may require multiple medications.
As a caregiver, you could be responsible for not just one patient with multiple diagnoses, but several. So, how do you keep track of it all? Refer to this senior’s guide to medication management for helpful strategies that could streamline the process.
Stick to a schedule
The easiest way to remember to take (or administer) medication is to do it at the same time every day. SingleCare has a free medication schedule that you can download and fill out for each of your patients here.
Whether you follow SingleCare’s template or create your own version, you should include the name of each medication, the day and time it should be taken, and how much should be taken at a time. This daily medication schedule should be comprehensive of all medicines including prescription drugs, over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and supplements.
Understanding prescriptions can be a challenge. There’s a lot of information on those tiny labels. Here are three steps to follow each time you pick up a new prescription for your patient. First, verify that the patient’s name, doctor, and pharmacy information is correct. Next, jot down the drug name, its strength, and administration instructions on that medication schedule we just talked about. Then, ask the pharmacist questions if anything is unclear or confusing to you. We’ll talk about this more in the next section.
Remember that you are an important member of your patient’s healthcare team. You should feel empowered to lean in by asking questions and providing feedback. To do so, make sure you take advantage of doctor’s appointments and pharmacy visits.
One resource that you can benefit from is a medication review from a pharmacist. You can request an appointment with your patient and his or her pharmacist during which you all can sit down, review the patient’s list of medications, and ask questions. Don’t forget to bring that medication schedule we mentioned earlier. It may also be helpful to note the possible side effects of certain drugs, so you and your patient can be prepared.
Many of us abide by doctor’s orders—no questions asked. And although it’s important to trust your doctor (or your patient’s doctor), you should also be an active participant in healthcare discussions. For example, two questions that seem obvious but are often overlooked are:
- How will this drug improve the patient’s health condition or symptom it has been prescribed for?
- Are there any drugs that are no longer necessary for the patient to take?
The less medication your patient is prescribed, the lower chance there is for a medication mishap. Mistakes in medication management can be dangerous and sometimes fatal. It’s important that caregivers take the time to understand their patient’s treatment plan, get organized, and stay diligent.
Post contributed by Sarah Breckon at SingleCare.