Posted on February 25, 2016 by Jim Koewler —
This week’s blog continues the discussion of an aging adult who wants to stay in his or her home, the emotional turmoil that can face the adult children in deciding whether to accede to the aging parent’s wishes to stay home. Today’s blog will discuss medication management.
One of the most common reasons that an aging adult cannot stay in his or her home is failure to take medication as prescribed. Compliance with prescriptions is HUGE in a senior’s attempts to age in place. There is help with medication management.
An older adult can have a complicated prescription regimen for any number of chronic conditions. “Mom” might need a blue pill, a red capsule, a round white tablet, and an oblong white tablet at breakfast. Then, she might need two red capsules, a yellow tablet, and two different white capsules at lunchtime. Then, it’s a yellow capsule and two oblong white tablets in the afternoon. Then, it’s more of the same at dinner and again at bedtime. It’s hard to keep them all straight.
The adult family member should seek out a prescription packaging service. These services can organize all of Mom's prescriptions and package them for easy identification of the pills necessary at each particular time. The Monday morning pills are all in one sealed packet, and the packet is labeled for Monday morning. The Monday noon pills are in another sealed packet labeled for Monday noon, etc. Mom doesn’t have to sort her own pills. The service has done the sorting and packaged pills together that need to be taken together based on day and time. Also, the individual packets are in a tear-off strip, in order. Monday morning’s pills are at the end of the strip. When Mom tears off that packet and takes the pills, then the next packet (now at the end of the strip) is the Monday noon packet. Then, the next packet has the pills for Monday afternoon. Mom's pills are sorted so that she needs to tear off just the packet at the end of the strip. Mom has no confusion sorting pills and making sure that she gets all of them necessary at any particular time. The service takes care of that. Mom just needs to tear off the next packet.
There was a time when Medicare services would provide nursing help to monitor how patients living at home were taking their medications. Hand-written records were left at the patient's home with details of how mom or dad were taking their medications. I'm not sure if the government has discontinued this service in your area but using the services of a nurse care manager to set-up weekly medication management pill boxes in the home also helps to keep mom living in her home if there is no dementia.
If Mom's difficulty isn’t sorting the pills but remembering to take her pills at the appropriate time, there are prescription reminders available (often from the same companies that provide the panic button necklace for seniors afraid of falling.) A reminder device can be placed in a conspicuous place in the house that will give an alarm when it’s time to take medicine. These devices generally get the senior’s attention. (Remember how annoying was the sound of your alarm clock this morning. It got you out of bed at, more or less, the right time, didn’t it? These reminders work on the same concept.)
A step above the medication reminder is an automated pill dispenser with its own alarm. A dispenser will hold all of Mom's prescriptions for a certain number of days at a time. It will dispense Mom's pills, pre-sorted, at the time necessary for her to take the pills.
A more sophisticated version of the pill dispenser will leave the pills available to Mom for a certain length of time. If Mom doesn’t take the pills out of the dispenser during that time, it will close up. (Each batch of pills necessary at a particular time are in one small drawer together on one model of such a dispenser.) The closing of the drawer prevents Mom from catching up with her pills all at once. Some models that close up the pills not taken on time can notify a family member or a care manager when Mom fails to take some of her pills. Now, someone needs to fill the dispenser. That someone is usually a nurse care manager if no familiy live nearby.
With these services, medication management (and compliance with medication’s requirements) becomes much easier. Compliance with prescription schedules will make it far more likely that the older adult can remain in their own home.
At A Good Daughter Solutions we've had a good experience with two providers: Life Alert, and Guardian Medical Services. A medication dispenser can be rented monthly and can be programmed by a nurse care manager to dispense either weekly or monthly. The size of the dispenser is close to a coffee machine and usually fits on a kitchen counter. The nurse will program how the medications are to be dispensed and the machine talks to the patient whenever a medication is to be taken. Medications to be taken at a particular time of day are dispensed in a small, covered, cup preventing mistakes by the patient or the caregiver. Please feel free to call us If you'd like to know more and we will send you a link to each provider. If living out of town and would like the phone numbers to a prescription packaging service near mom or dad's address please call our office at 561-235-2490 If we are out of the office with clients please feel free to leave a message. We usually return calls as soon as possible.
Also feel free to comment below. Thank you.
Posted: 26th of February, 2016 by Olga Brunner
Labels: medication. elder care medication management. agooddaughtersolutions.com
I Have worn many hats in my day: Nursing Home Assistant Admin and Activities Director, Assisted Living Admin, Case Management for the State-wide Medicaid Program, and Trainer for Dept of Elder Affairs.