Most senior citizens take a least one form of medicine daily. Many take multiple medicines. If you have to care for an elderly person, particularly a disabled person, keeping track of medications can be difficult. Here’s how to easily organize their medicines, pills, auto- injections, patches, supplements and any other form of medication you may need to give your senior loved one.
First of all, be aware that if you care for or have power of attorney over a senior citizen, you need to be organized. If the elderly person is bed-ridden, disabled or unable to care for themselves, due to injury or mental condition, you will need to provide a great deal of care. Physicians, therapists and nurses will direct you on how to care for your senior loved one, but it will be up to you to follow through. If the elderly person has suffered an injury, illness, stroke or some other debilitating condition requiring custodial care, you will want to take over the administering of all his medications even those he was taking prior to the condition (diabetes injections, eye drops, arthritis medication, etc.) until such time as he is able to resume self-care.

Let’s begin with the prescription of the medicine. Do not rely on your elderly relative to remember what she needs, how much she needs to take or how frequently. Particularly if the medicine is a pain medication, anti-depressants, NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) you will need to pay close attention. These drugs can cause persons to become confused, incoherent and sleepy. Be sure you understand how to administer the medicines before you leave the doctor’s office or pharmacy. Pharmacies now attach a drug information sheet, so read that over and ask any questions you may have. Make sure that her physician knows exactly which medications, vitamins or supplements that she is currently taking. My 84 year old mother-in-law recently broke her back. I administer her medications and generally consult with therapists, nurses and doctors. She was given a prescription for topical pain medication patches. I had to pay close attention to be sure that I was administering this potentially lethal drug properly and I asked lots of questions to ensure her safety.

If you have concerns about how the medicine is affecting the senior citizen, do not hesitate to call their physician. You may have to be a little persistent with your concerns. In our situation, my mother-in-law was placed on Valium in addition to Tylenol 3 for pain relief. The Valium had made her confused and incoherent. To listen to her, anyone would have concluded that she was suffering from a psychotic episode or Alzheimer’s Disease. She was developing a dependency on the Valium as well. I continually explained my concerns and finally we were able to wean her off from the Valium. If you are concerned about a prescribed medication, please speak up. Your elderly relative, due to pain or illness may not be able to communicate the problem.

Lastly, to make sure that you are giving the proper medications at the proper times, place all medications in a container. Label each with name, what it is for, dosage and times to take it. Keep a notepad and pen in the bin with the medications. Try to give medications at the same time each day. Note each time you administer the medication: date, time and dosage. Note down any changes or side effects. The doctor or nurse will need to know these things. If you have small children, keep the bin of medication out of reach of children. Be sure to wash your hands before and after administering the medication to prevent the spread of illness. Elderly people are always more susceptible to illness.

All the best to you and your elderly loved one.