Check, and Recheck:
Before taking a medication, double-check the label to be sure that you are taking it according to your doctor’s instructions.
Never rely on your memory, especially since seniors tend to take so many different medications. You may have several medications with similar names and a medication mistake can be costly.
Also, make sure you’re giving the correct dosage. If there are instructions for “weaning” off a medication, be sure to follow these exactly. Medications like oral steroids may have serious side effects if not taken correctly when you are trying to stop a medication that may have been taken long-term.
Are you taking the medication correctly? Is it an oral medicine or is it an injectable medicine? An oral medicine that is accidentally injected could have painful, if not lethal consequences.
Finally, make sure you’re giving the medicine at the right time.
There is generally a two hour window of time that a medicine can be given. This window starts one hour before the medicine is prescribed and ends one hour after its time. For example, if a medicine is prescribed at 2 p.m., you can usually start giving it at 1 p.m. up until 3 p.m. During this window, you can usually take the prescribed dosage without harmful side effects. To be sure that the window of time applies to your situation, check with your doctor or pharmacist.
Seniors may have problems with feeling in the tips of their fingers and may have difficulty feeling the pills in their hands. Watch for medicines on the floor around the area where they generally take their medicines. If there are several pills on the floor or on the cabinet, it could be a sign that they are dropping one of their pills and not getting the medication they need.
Caregivers can develop a system where they watch them take medicines or even administer the medications themselves.
Taken properly, all medications have their purpose. Determining the best way for your loved one to take medicines may take some work and documentation on your part in order to develop the right management system for your household and comfort level. Be sure to check with your loved one’s physician and pharmacist if you suspect a problem or need additional information.