Mom forgot to take her meds again! Not to worry; there are some tips and tricks to help in the battle! Knowing some different approaches for pill reminders is always beneficial.
Elderly parents living alone bring many challenges. One of the most common issues with elderly parents living alone, is medication reminders. Mom just can’t remember to take her medications! Although there is no guarantee to fixing this problem, follow these simple ideas to assist in the reminders.
3 Tips For Making Remembering Pills Easier
Tip # 1 =========> Get a list of all of the medications she is currently taking. Not just what you think to be all. Make sure you have them all included because when you setup this solution, you want to make sure all meds are included. If you are not certain if you have them all, call the pharmacy that fills her prescriptions. They will assist in getting you a list of her meds and the date for the last time a specific drug was filled.
The next step while obtaining a list off all of her meds is to have a conversation with the pharmacist or her doctor. What you are asking for here is a review of the meds to see if any are overlapping or conflicting. Many times there will be potential conflicts or possible duplication in meds because different doctor’s do not always know what other doctor’s may have written a prescription for. If you can eliminate a drug because it is basically doing the same thing as a different drug, great. Here is a nice resource for checking drugs that may interact. Sometimes less is more.
When speaking with the pharmacist, ask them if each drug being taken has to be at a specific time. The goal here is to combine as many drugs as possible into each time slot that is necessary. The fewer times per day that mom or dad has to take their drugs, the better. If you can combine all drugs into an breakfast, lunch, and dinner combination that works great.
One suggestion here regarding mom or dad’s meds, keep a list in the cloud. Something like Google Docs works well for this. Make an easy to read document that lists all the meds, the date they were prescribed, and the benefit the drug is intended to provide. You will always have access to this list this way. Going forward, always update any changes in prescriptions so you can stay on top of the correct meds that your loved one is on.
Now you have a current list of medications and the correct dosages mom or dad should be taking. You know there is no overlap so you know that every drug mom is on is important and cannot be overlooked. You will be surprised at how many people never review the meds that mom or dad are taking. Easy fix to some common issues just by reviewing the drugs periodically.
Tip # 2 =========> Simplify the process! Sounds easy enough right? Wrong! So the first thing to do is get rid of the pill bottles for her. If mom is going to remember to take her meds you have to make it as simple as possible. Maybe mom actually knows at 10 am she is supposed to go to the kitchen and get her pills out. However, she has a hard time reading the labels on the pill bottles and second guesses herself that she has the right pill bottle in hand. Instead of taking what she thinks may be the wrong medication, it’s easier for her to just skip it all together! She doesn’t think it makes a difference anyway so what’s the big deal?
The next thing to do is to get a pill organizer. Amazon has hundreds of possibilities here so don’t just grab the first one you find. When shopping for an organizer, know how many meds mom is taking and also know how many different times of day that she is supposed to be taking them. If the container will be remaining at home, look for a large container, not small You want one that is easy to see, easy to open, and is not a workout just to get into. Do NOT get what you think would be easy for you! Put yourself in her shoes when looking at your different options. Her eyesight is weak, her hands are frail, and her strength is fading. Keep that in mind when deciding which container to use. Put yourself in her shoes when shopping for a pill container.
Once you have an appropriate container, it’s time to take each medication and move it from the bottle to the pill organizer. Take your time when setting up the meds, it’s kind of a big deal! Make sure you have the correct dosage and time and put it into the appropriate time slot in the pill box. Ideally, you will be filling one pill box and mom will easily be able to see the different days of the week and times during the day.
Tip # 3 ========> Now you have mom’s meds setup in an easy to get to container. There is just one more challenge! How do we get her to remember to take the pills?!?!? This can be tricky but here are some ideas that may help in this area.
Earlier when speaking with mom’s pharmacy, you determined that you have the fewest times of day that she has to remember covered. Breakfast is the first time she has to take her pills. Assuming that mom chooses from the same few items each morning for breakfast, you are going to take a large sized note and place it on each item. If she eats oatmeal on occasion, a note goes on the oatmeal saying ‘DID YOU REMEMBER YOUR BREAKFAST PILLS?’ If she eats toast on occasion, this same note goes on the toaster. Cereal? Same thing. You get the picture. Breakfast items each get their own note asking if she remembered.
She simply goes to the pill organizer that you have setup and takes the correct day of the week and the breakfast label. No longer does she have to worry about reading the small labels on the pill bottle. It’s easy to read on her pill container and she simply opens it up and takes it.
Now it’s 10:30 am and mom has her next dosage due. She doesn’t usually eat lunch for another couple hours so the breakfast note idea won’t help here. What to do? There are a few options here but one of the easier ones is to use an app on YOUR phone to make a scheduled call each day to your mom. It’s called MyEzApp and it will allow you to setup various times to make scheduled calls.
In this situation, set it to dial your mom’s home phone at 10:30 each day. The message will say ‘Hello’ and that will be your mom’s cue to take her meds. There are other apps available that do this similar task so take a look around. It’s an easy solution for automating a daily task for you and your mom.
Another option here if the phone call approach is not your choice would be a daily alarm. If your mom has a smart phone, set up a daily alarm each day at a specific time. This will assist in helping her to remember as well.
Mom doesn’t have a smart phone? No problem, one last solution! There are medication machines available that you can program to distribute medications at specific times. An alarm sounds and has to be acknowledged before the meds will be distributed. If the alarm goes ignored, it will send a text message to your designated person so you know a medication was missed. There are several options available with these machines but it definitely is effective in proper medication administration. You setup the med machine in the same manner you setup a pill organizer.
Repeat the Process
With lunch, you would do the same thing that you did at breakfast. At dinner? Same idea as the two earlier meals. Meal times are generally easier to set up reminder notes because you know where mom or dad will be going at certain times. The other times are more of a challenge. However, using the above tricks can certainly make it easier to manage.
Here’s The Deal
Mom and Dad are getting older. Tasks that used to be simple are not so simple anymore. These ideas in this article may help for a while but they may lose their effectiveness. There is no 100% solution in getting Mom or Dad to do what they are supposed to. The live alone, they want to maintain their independence, and there are things that they will refuse to do just to get under your skin. When bring home care in to equation, it can make things easier but you will still face many challenges. Read our article on Essentials To Home Care to assist with other tricks that may be of assistance.
This is not uncommon. They do not want to be told how to live their life! Surely you can understand that. The most important message you can convey when getting mom and dad to do things that are necessary is this. Get them to understand that if they do not do these things (whatever they may be) that they will not be able to live in their home any longer. They will have to go into a facility of some sort to get the assistance they need. If you can get them to understand this, you will have a much easier time on your hands getting them to do the little things that they need to be doing.