What are Medication Management Best Practices?
The key to following medication management best practices is to maintain consistency and establish a routine. Put a plan in place to consult with your doctor and pharmacist, stay organized, and take medication as prescribed.
If you’re in the hospital or an Assisted Living Community, trained professionals will be on hand to make sure you take the proper medications at the correct times. It’s not something you really need to think about. However, when you’ve made the transition from staying at the hospital to living at home, and you’re not yet in a situation where you’ll need to move into Assisted Living, it’s on you (and possibly a loved one or caregiver) to make sure you engage in safe medication management. That can be a daunting task—but it doesn’t have to be.
In exchange for just five minutes of your time, we’re going to take a look at the medication management process, the best medication management guidelines to follow, and helpful tips to assist you through this process.
What Are the Key Principles of Medication Management?
The key to medication management best practices is to maintain consistency and establish a routine. This is the hardest part, and making sure you regularly follow your routine takes discipline and dedication. An additional key principle of the process is to communicate when you need assistance with your medication or struggle with the cadence of accurate medication consumption. It is never an inconvenience to ask for help!
Once you move into an Assisted Living Community, medication management will no longer be a concern. This guidance is for now, as you’re transitioning from a hospital stay to living at home, or if you’ve been at home consistently but have trouble remembering your medication.
Medication Management Tips
Here are a number of tips and guidelines that will go a long way toward ensuring proper medication management.
Consult with Your Doctor and Your Pharmacist
While you’re still in the hospital, you should consult with your physician, pharmacist and other members of your care team about the types of medication you’re taking, the purpose of these medications, and the proper doses for your particular situation. It’s important that you understand exactly why you’ve been prescribed these medications, the frequency of dosing, and any side effects that might occur. Remember, even the most skilled and experienced medical professionals can’t feel what you’re feeling, so it’s vital that you share your experience and ask questions.
Make a Long-Term Medication Plan
Create and maintain a list of all the medications you’ll be taking, documenting what they are for, how often you should take them, and when refills will be required. There are a number of ways to ensure you keep everything straight, from the old-fashioned (and still effective) pillboxes, to computer-generated spreadsheets and reminders you can set up on your phone or other smart device.
Also, you can coordinate with your pharmacy to have all medications filled at the same time. This will cut down on the number of trips you (or a caregiver) have to make to the pharmacist, and help to make sure you never run out of any medication. Pharmacies can provide “bubble packs,” i.e., packages that list all the medications inside, and what time of day to take each medicine. (Assisted Living Communities can also help with this service.)
Take Medication as Prescribed
Do not deviate from the plan you’ve mapped out with the help of your doctor and pharmacist. At times you might be tempted to skip a dose because you’re feeling some side effects or believe the medication isn’t working, or increase the dosage without consulting your medical care professionals. These are always bad ideas, and can result in serious health consequences. If you feel a particular type of medication isn’t worth the trouble because of certain side effects, or a dose is too powerful or too weak—contact your physician. Self-medication is a slippery slope and almost always causes setbacks and potentially serious problems.
Enlist the Help of a Trusted Family Member, Friend, or Caregiver
Even if you’re maintaining a well-organized schedule, there might be times when you’re drowsy or in pain and you’re not in the best place to make the right decisions about medication management best practices. It’s a great idea to enlist the help of a trusted loved one, or a professional caregiver, to remind you of when to take medications and how much to take. (If this becomes a persistent problem, you might have to consider hiring a regular caregiver, or moving into an Assisted Living Community.)
Store Medication Properly
In addition to making sure you take your medication in the prescribed manner and dosage, you have to literally take care of your medication. Always keep medication in the original packaging (or in a well-organized distribution box) and keep in mind that certain medications require specialized storage, e.g., some medications must be refrigerated while others simply need to be kept in a cool, dry place.
Pro Tip: The bathroom medicine cabinet, despite its name, is actually NOT a good place for medication storage, as the moisture created by hot showers, baths, etc., can negatively impact the efficiency of a drug.
What is the Best Practice When Administering Medication?
When in doubt about your medication, it’s always best practice to rely on those who have experience with medication administration. If you’re concerned about your medications and whether they’re working properly, or experiencing a side effect not previously discussed with your health care professionals, it’s important to reach out. This also includes if something just doesn’t feel right, or if you’re confused or have any questions about the effectiveness and purpose of not only a single medication, but how they are coordinated throughout the hour, day, and week. Call your doctor and pharmacist, and they can make adjustments when necessary.
Additionally, seniors with medication management needs may be able to receive certain prescription drug coverage through Medicare. You can learn more in our article “What Does Medicare Cover for Seniors?”
Find Senior Care Near You
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by managing your medication on your own and you’re looking for other options, moving to an Assisted Living or Memory Care Community is a sustainable long-term choice. Referah counselors are available to discuss professional oversight of the medication management process so you or your loved one receives the care they want and need. Talk with us today and discover the advantages of moving to a senior community.