is a concept any family caregiver might want to adopt sooner rather than later. And here’s why.
If you already help care for or are approaching the duties of caring for a loved one there may come a time when you have to help them with medications. That can include identifying sorting, refilling, administering and keeping track of what they are taking.
You also then have to understand the names of medications (pharmaceutical, brand name and generic), what condition(s) they treat and what side-effects to watch out for.If it seems like a lot, that’s because it is! But, I maneuvered my way through it for many years and so can you. Remember, your loved one’s well-being is at stake so the sooner you learn how to manage these items the better.
Put on your advocate hat
Remember the popular Public Service Announcement series, “The More you Know?” Well, I discovered that is pretty much the exact same approach to take when it comes to helping your loved one with medications.
The more knowledgeable you are the better advocate you can be during any doctor visits or trips to the hospital.
From day to day, I would look at how many medications she had to take and my head would spin. I felt like a drug dealer in my own home. Our medication drawer looked like a full-fledged pharmacy. The only thing missing was me wearing a white lab coat!
But seriously, making sure you understand the meds is critical, especially if some of the medications are required in order to keep a heart working properly or blood flowing smoothly or prevent seizures or the like. Tracking medications made easy could be the difference between staying healthy or not.
It’s time to get organized
Tracking medications made easy became a life all its own for me. In our household we had about ten medications to keep track of, with distribution times scattered throughout the day. With so many pills to take there was no choice but to get organized.
I had in-home caregivers working with my mother, so I needed to make certain they also understood the seriousness of her medications. I placed copies of this list in key locations throughout our home. One stayed in the medication drawer. Another was placed in mom’s bathroom. Yet another was tacked to the wall in her bedroom. And for safe measure I also placed a final copy tacked to the wall in my pantry.
Step two: I emailed myself a PDF copy of this list. That way, at any doctor visit when they asked, “Have you had any medication changes? What milligram dose of this or that do you take?” I was prepared. At the swipe of the phone I had all the information I needed. I also then emailed that medication list to my siblings. They were not physically near but at least if anything came up they would also have that information handy.
The other reason having all of this information organized and easily accessible? On the off-chance you have to call paramedics or EMT’s for an emergency you will be ready! They are going to immediately ask, “What medications are you taking?” You can help them help your loved one by simply handing them the list or telling them your information. Trust me – these trained professional appreciate that kind of preparedness.
I believe it also quickly signals to them that you are an advocate
Being prepared indicates you are on the ball. Tracking medications made easy means you care about your loved one’s well-being. And you expect anyone tending to them to do the same. This final point can be all about perception. But perception is a powerful tool when making sure your loved one is properly cared for.
Keep in mind, each of us has a unique way of organizing our information. Like I said, I prefer old-school. But, you can also go digital to keep all of this information in one place.
In many rural areas you can’t always get a strong signal
If the information is ONLY in your digital device(s) you may not always be able to access it when you need to (I learned this from personal experience; hence the old-fashioned hard-copies).
Choose a method that works best for YOU but just make sure you do SOMETHING and GET ORGANIZED NOW!
Seriously – it could be a matter of life or death.
Do you have a system in place that works for you and your family? We’d love to hear from you – share yourexperiences!
**KIRC creator Julia Yarbough is not a doctor, attorney or trained health care provider. All information provided is based on personal experience as a family caregiver to an elderly parent and interviews with subject-matter experts.