7 tips to manage medication at home
Why medication management in home care is so important
Did you know that 2 in 3 Australians over the age of 75 take five or more medications every day? As you age, good medication management becomes increasingly important.
It doesn’t matter whether you take prescription or non-prescription medicines, the more you take, the more likely you are to make mistakes or experience problems.
Those issues can include:
- Side effects like dizziness or fainting, which could lead to falls.
- Interactions that can cause drowsiness, confusion or memory problems.
- A separate medical condition getting worse because of a medication you’re taking for something else.
Medication management issues are common. According to NPS Medicine Wise, over 140,000 Australians have to go to hospital each year with medicine problems and in 69% of cases, it could have been avoided.
So, what are some ways that you can help reduce the risk of issues when you manage medication in home care?
Tip 1: Create a medication list
The more medications you take, the harder it can be to remember which ones you’re on. One way to manage medication is to create a medication list.
In your medicine list, you can record information like:
- All your medicines both prescription and non-prescription along with any supplements or vitamins you might take.
- What you take each medication for.
- How much you take.
- How often you take it.
Tip 2: Get a medication organiser
When managing multiple medications, many people find it easier to use a medication organiser so you know when to take each pill.
Medication organisers like Webster-pak™ have separate compartments for each day of the week and can even be broken up into times of the day. This way you can see what you’ve taken and what you haven’t, depending on the time of the day.
You can buy your blister pack from the pharmacy and they can even help you sort out your medications into the days and times you need them.
Tip 3: Store your medications in the right way
The way you store your medications is important. Things like sunlight, heat and humidity can affect the way the medication works and how effective it is.
When you first receive your medication, chat to your pharmacist about how best to store it. This information should also be on the packaging. Some medication may need to be kept in the fridge. But a lot of medication will say it needs to be stored in a cool, dry place, in the original packaging and away from children.
Tip 4: Keep an eye on combination medications
Managing combination medications can be difficult as they have more than one active ingredient. Sometimes they’re combined because it makes it easier for you to take the one medication rather than two separate ones. It can also sometimes be cheaper.
However, combination medications come with risks. If you don’t know what the active ingredient is, you may risk overdosing. An example of this is cold and flu tablets. They contain paracetamol, but if you also take paracetamol separately, you can risk damaging your liver.
If you have a side effect, it’s more difficult to know which active ingredient is causing it. It’s also harder to change dosages of the active ingredients in combination medications.
Tip 5: Get a Home Medicines Review
A Home Medicines Review is when an accredited pharmacist checks what medication you’re taking. It is funded by the Australian Government so you don’t have to pay for it, but you do need a referral from a GP.
The pharmacist will visit you at your home. Before they visit, make sure you get all your medication ready. This will include:
- your prescription medicines
- any over-the-counter medicines you take
- any vitamins, supplements and herbal remedies you take
Don’t forget things like inhalers, patches, creams and eye or ear drops. When the pharmacist visits, they will check your medications and make sure they’re not past their use-by date. They will talk to you about how you take each medication and where you store it. They will give you suggestions about how to best manage your medications.
They will then send a report to your GP. When you visit your GP, they may suggest changing some medications or finding other ways to better support your medication management.
Your pharmacist can then support you with these changes.
Tip 6: Get some help from Five Good Friends
If medication management is a problem for you or your loved one, Five Good Friends can help. One of our services is medication management, which can include anything from:
- Gentle prompting from your loved one’s Helper to take their medication.
- Helping to organise medication packaging using blister packs.
- Arranging a Home Medicines Review.
We work with you and your loved one to help improve medication management at home.
Tip 7: Check your old medications
Although it might seem sensible to keep medication ‘just in case’, it can actually be quite dangerous. Not only does medication degrade over time, if they find their way into the wrong hands, they could be poisonous.
Also, medication shouldn’t be thrown out in the regular bin or flushed down the sink. If they enter the waterways, dangerous chemicals can change the environment.
The best thing to do is go through all your old medications and decide whether you need them anymore. If not, you can take them to any pharmacy to be disposed of. This is called the Return Unwanted Medications project.
If you’d like to know more about our personal care and medication management services, please get in touch. Our friendly team are on hand to chat about how we can help.