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Q.My elderly parents are having difficulty keeping track of their medications. what are some of the best solutions?

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Answered by, Datin Mariani Ahmad Nizaruddin, RPh MMPS Chairman Community Pharmacy Chapter and Vice President 1 & Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society Council Member

It is really easy to forget to take medications on time, even more so when your elderly parents need to take five or more medications at different times of the day.

To overcome problems such as forgetting to take medications, it is essential to get organised with the right knowledge, motivation and tools.

Ways to keep track of medications

  • Keep an up-to-date medication list. Ensure this list is reflective of all prescription medications, pharmacy medicines, over-the-counter and herbal medications your elderly parents are taking. Clearly label the names of the medication, directions for use before or after meal and the frequency must be evident. Review this list every time there is a change.
  • Make it a routine. By taking medicines at a similar time daily, it really helps to remind them of the correct administration time.
  • Use calendars or pill reminders boxes to aid further. These special pill boxes have sections to put pills for each meal and for bedtime by day or by week, so you can help organise the medication for them.
  • There are even mobile applications that you can program reminders for the medicine to be taken.
  • Some of the latest technologies available overseas include special bottles with caps that count how many times the bottle has been opened (a way of knowing how many pills have been taken). Some boxes even beep or make noise when it is time to take medication.

Probably the most simple yet effective way is to ensure that there is fluid or water to take with the medicines so swallowing is not difficult.

See your friendly community pharmacist to put in detail the names of the medicine, when and how to take them as well as draw up your parents’ medication list. Certain pharmacies can assist in packing the medicines in ‘medication blister cards’ to make it easier to remember taking them. The medication can be arranged by daily for two weeks to a month, though do keep them in original packing for certain light sensitive ones.

Make sure to get your elderly parents involved in their management of medicines and play a supportive role in ensuring they are motivated of the need to understand the medicines they are taking.

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