Managing meds: Tips and tools to keep track of what your loved one is taking
Handy tips and advice on how to help your loved one manage their medication.
If your parent or loved one is managing a medical condition, you're probably concerned about how they will manage a complicated schedule of medications – but they don’t have to do it alone.
In Australia, GPs prescribe over 100 million medicines each year, and approximately 94% of people over 65 are currently taking one or more prescribed medications while almost half of over 50s take five or more.
It’s estimated that half of us fail to take medication as prescribed, but the most common problems that older Australians experience when taking medication may be quite simple to remedy. These problems include:
- Not filling new prescriptions from the doctor.
- Not taking medications.
- Doubling up on similar medications.
- Skipping doses or taking more than prescribed.
- Taking medications at the wrong time.
- Taking medications with food, drink or other medications that could interact with them.
- Not refilling repeats.
Judith Ngai, a community pharmacist who also works at Bupa, says the problems that arise from these mistakes can be serious, so having a conversation with your loved one about their medications is an important step in helping them manage it better.
“For example, if they are taking too much of a medication that makes them drowsy, they could be at a greater risk of falls,” says Ngai.
“If you’re worried that a loved one isn't taking their medication as they should, let them know you’re concerned about their health and safety. That may be all the motivation they need to talk to their doctor about any problems they may be having."
Luckily, there are some really simple ways to help them once you have broached the topic.
Make friends with the local pharmacist
If you worry about your loved one taking multiple medications, their local pharmacy will be able to help by keeping an eye on their use of prescription and over-the-counter drugs, as well as keeping prescriptions on file.
“Many pharmacists offer a service that helps you compile and update a list of all of your medicines, and explains why and how to take them,” says Ngai.
“Also, each time you are prescribed a new medication your pharmacist can give you a Consumer Medicines Information (CMI) leaflet to read in your own time and to keep with your medical records for future reference.”
You can also ask them about dose administration aids (DAAs) – these are devices, such as Webster-paks or dosette boxes, that help reduce the likelihood of mixing up your medications, making dosage errors or forgetting to take your medication.
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MedAdvisor and Bupa have joined forces to create an app that takes the struggle out of managing medication. In conjunction with your doctor and pharmacy, MedAdvisor helps you manage different medications from the palm of your hand.
The new app gives users an automatic list of their prescription medications on their smartphone, tablet or PC. The app reminds users when to fill repeats, visit their doctor for scripts and when it’s time to take each dose. It also has information on possible side effects of different types of medications.
“Like a pocket pharmacist, it connects you – through your smartphone or PC – to your prescription records at MedAdvisor Network Pharmacies around Australia,” says Ngai.
Once you’ve downloaded it, visit a MedAdvisor Network Pharmacy for an activation code that will attach your MedAdvisor account to your personal medication record – and you're ready to go.