More than 12 million older Americans live alone. Those in their late 60s take as many as 14 prescriptions daily. The abundance of pills correlates to chronic diseases requiring multiple medications, according to the National Council on Aging.
Skipping medications or overdosing can cause serious consequences, no matter a person’s age. People who order prescriptions online may consult their pharmacists less frequently. And, now more than ever, it’s very important to take medications in the right amounts at the right times.
- Use a medication box with compartments for each day of the week. These work well because they allow you to see any medications you’ve forgotten to take. For multiple prescriptions, larger medical boxes offer sub-compartments for morning, afternoon and evening.
- Stock the medications box once a week. For prescriptions that are running low, order refills right away. If you have trouble getting out, find a pharmacy that delivers.
- Establish a routine for taking medications at set intervals, with meals, or before your favorite news program. If your phone has an alarm, set it with reminders throughout the day.
The more medications, the more challenging organizing your routine becomes, because some medications must be taken with food and others without. If you need help, ask a family member or trusted friend, or consider contacting a homecare provider.
If you’re comfortable with technology, try using a medical reminders phone app. You can visit a Walgreens near you and ask the pharmacist to assist you with downloading their phone app.
These methods won’t work for individuals who struggle with dementia or have trouble remembering days of the week. A caregiver is needed to set out doses and provide supervision.
If side effects occur, immediately consult your physician. Keep an up-to-date list of all prescriptions on your refrigerator for medical emergencies.
Kathy Semrow R.N, director of Life Care at Home, a not-for-profit provider of private in-home personal care, shares her 42 years of nursing experience.