Helen lived in an independent living apartment for seniors. She lived there alone after her husband passed away. Her children lived a few hours away but stayed in touch by phone and visited often.
She had a medical condition that was managed very well with medication. Her children knew how important her medication regimen was to her health, so they worked with a pharmacy that delivered her pills in blister packs with each day and time labeled.
Confused & Overmedicated
Helen started getting confused and complained about not being able to sleep at night. When her family reviewed her medication packs, they could see that she had taken several days of her medicine by removing the pills for more than one day’s blister pack. She had taken too much medicine. How could they help her make sure it didn’t happen again?
Studies state that 55% of seniors do not take their medications properly and that 30% of all hospital readmissions are due to medication non-adherence. There are many reasons that people don’t take their prescriptions the right way.
- Some may feel that they take too many pills and try to do without some of them.
- They may dislike the side effects such as sleepiness, dry mouth, or other symptoms.
- Others may worry about the expense of medication
- Some people are forgetful. They forget to take their pills, or they forget they’ve already taken them and take them again.
How to Help with Medication from Afar
What should you do if you are caring for a loved one from a distance, or simply can’t visit often enough to ensure proper medication compliance?
If an assisted living or nursing home is not an option, you might consider an automated medication dispensing station. The locked devices can be loaded with the right pills and doses and set to alarm when it’s time to take the medications. They also can be set to alert a caregiver or family member if the medications are not taken.
Medication Dispenser: Rent or Buy?
You will have the choice to rent or buy. I suggest you rent the med dispenser to start out.
A friend recently got her mother an automatic pill dispenser like this one: Philips Automated Medication Dispensing Service. She said it’s really helping her mother take her pills on time and has greatly reduced the incidents of high blood pressure that comes from skipping doses of important meds.
Although it’s working well, they spent a lot of time with customer support over the phone. She said they were excellent help, but that it was labor-intensive to set up the first time or two. Now they are comfortable with the setup and happy with the alert system. The only complaint is the time it takes to reset the pills if there is a change in the regimen, or a new medicine is added.
There are several less expensive options on Amazon, but the reviews are very mixed, and I would recommend sticking with a company that offers support.
Stay Home Longer
Medication compliance is crucial to staying healthy and remaining independent. A medication dispenser and it’s alert capabilities can help a loved one stay at home longer and prevent side effects from improper administration of medicine.
What options would you consider if you were worried about your loved one missing important medicine or taking too much?
Advocate for Their Quality of Life
As an RN, I have focused my career on helping the elderly live active, healthy lives at home or in assisted living. Schedule a call with me to discuss your loved one’s needs and create a plan for their future.