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Call us on: 01424 834710

How to help the elderly manage medications

Your mother sees doctors for several chronic conditions, and her latest checkup has you concerned. Her blood pressure is back on the rise, and not only that, her diabetes is no longer under control. When you check her medicine cabinet, instead of the organised line of boxes you’ve come to expect, you find chaos: half-empty packets of outdated drugs, unopened prescriptions still in the pharmacy wrapping, packs of over-the-counter remedies and supplements – and a plastic baggie filled with assorted loose pills in rainbow colors, like so many jellybeans.

The touchy conversation that follows makes one thing clear – your mother needs help with her medication management. If you step up to take on that role, here’s how to get things sorted out.

  1. Make a list – this list should include any occasional remedies such as sleep or cold medicines.
  2. Look at the labels – check for out of date or duplicate, opened medicines.
  3. Check with your pharmacist – a quick check of your list should enable a pharmacist to highlight any possible issues with medicines.
  4. Clean up and streamline – remove any medicines that are no longer needed.
  5. Too much to swallow – taking 20 tablets at the same time can be a daunting task, so ask your doctor if you can spread them out through the day, or taken in a different way such as crunched up and sprinkled onto food, or perhaps there is a liquid version.
  6. Get a pillbox – colour coded, electronic with alarms to remind you to take medicines and even talking pill boxes are available.  These are a great tool to manage medicines.  Colour coded are our favorite.
  7. Expect some “resistance” – being a care giver is hard, and the topic of medication is always going to be a tough one.  If you are an adult child care giving to a parent, try and allow them to have a role in the decision-making and feel like they maintain some control.
  8. Tweak as you go – you won’t get it right first time, and that’s fine.  You will find better ways, quicker ways, more efficient ways of managing medications.  Its a challenging role, so don’t rush it.
  9. Get outside help – never think of this as a failure. You will need help at some point, as a back-up for holidays and so on.  Our skilled care workers can help with all of these points.


Please contact us if you would like any assistance with managing medication.