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Be Smart When Managing Multiple Medications

Smartly Managing Medications

It can be daunting for family caregivers to keep track of managing multiple medications for loved ones. But the more you know about each prescription and why it’s needed, and the more you ask for help from health-care professionals, the easier it is to avoid problems.

Geriatrician James Pacala, M.D., the president of the American Geriatrics Society, offers these 5 tips for caregivers:

  • Know What Each Medication Is and Why It’s Being Taken
    Keep a record of current medicines and ask the following questions about each new prescription: What is this? Why and for how long is it being taken? Does it have a beneficial effect and when will that take place? “Caregivers must ask for or demand this information from the doctor,” Pacala says.
  • Develop a Relationship with a Pharmacist
    By getting all prescriptions filled at the same pharmacy you can get to know the pharmacist, who is skilled at explaining each drug, what its purpose is, and its potential side effects. Pharmacists also can suggest alternatives and be on the lookout for potentially adverse interactions.
  • Ask for Help in Streamlining Prescriptions
    Data show that error rates go up when medications are taken more than twice a day, Pacala says. Work with your doctor and pharmacist to simplify the regimen by evaluating every drug’s necessity and looking for alternatives, such as a long-acting form that can be taken just once a day.
  • Have One Doctor Prescribe All Medications
    If a specialist or secondary physician suggests a new drug or change in prescriptions, that change should be recommended through your primary physician, who can best evaluate whether such a change will interfere with or affect another medication or condition.
  • Reevaluate Medications After a Hospital Stay
    Hospital stays are one of the biggest sources for problems with medications. “Medicines are often started in the hospital when a patient is very ill,” Pacala says. “They are often continued automatically once the patient is released, so caregivers must work with their doctors to reevaluate the purpose and need of each and every drug.”

Advice for Managing Multiple Prescriptions

Do you have any tips or helpful hints when handling multiple prescriptions? Read the comments below for more tips that can help out a caregiver who might be in need of some advice.

About the Author:

Marla Holt is a writer and editor based in Owatonna, Minnesota. She writes for colleges and universities, nonprofit organizations, and consumer magazines.


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3 Replies

  • By Pam Benvenuti

    Keeping a schedule and preparing all medications weekly has helped me. While using a schedule it allows me to make notes, track each meds uses (reason for use) as well as answering any questions my husband may have about his medication. It also helps to keep space to write any notes for follow up appointments with his oncologist and other health care providers. Should I notice any issues with his meds I have an area to write that as well so as to avoid confusion which medication may be problematic.
    I’ve learned to be an advocate and ask many questions from what each meds used are and length if time the meds need to be used. Each visit I go over my husbands meds with his providers even if it seems repetitive it gives me peace of mind to know they are all monitored. Educate yourself as a care giver so accidental use of meds can be avoided. Lastly take a deep breath.

  • By Brendan

    Many pharmacies will bubble-pack prescriptions for you, though this does necessitate having them all filled at once, basically. But then you get a bubble to punch out for each day or each morning. Then all you have to do is have 2-3 bubble cards per month (one for each time of day ie morning, noon, bedtime or whatever) and it becomes an easy way to not only have all your meds in one place, but also it’s very easy to just glance at the bubble marked “15” or whatever and know whether you’ve taken things for that day yet.

  • By Yury

    Excellent! I’m going to download, print and carry this with me. Great rniemder. The other thing I would add is to head to the web to check out any new medications. I bookmark what I find for handy future reference.Sue recently posted..