Did Mom take her medication today? What OTC cold medicine did Dad take with his regular prescriptions? When was the last time Mom and Dad cleaned out the medicine cabinet?
Worrying about what, when and how your parents are taking medications is a common concern many children face as their parents age.
6 Steps To Help You Manage Your Parent’s Medication
1. Make a list. Write down everything your parent takes—not just doctor-prescribed drugs but also over-the-counter medicines like aspirin, laxatives, vitamins, herbal supplements, and others.
2. Read the labels. Look for any possible drug or food interactions and also note any recent changes in your parent’s health. As we age, the changes in our bodies can affect the way medicines are absorbed and used. For example, changes in body weight can influence how long a medicine stays in the body. The liver and kidneys also may work more slowly affecting the way a drug breaks down and is removed from the body. These types of changes can cause one medicine to not work or another to be stronger.
3. Streamline the schedule. Look for prescriptions from various doctors that may interact. Write down various medication times to determine if those conflict or could be easily confused or forgotten. Are there any medications that are being refilled but may no longer be needed?
4. Consult before making any changes. Take the list and the schedule to your parent’s primary care physician or pharmacist for professional guidance. Keep in mind the doctor may need to verify that he or she has permission to speak with you about your parent’s medications. You may need a signed form or waiver from your parent.
5. Express your worry to your parent. Talk with your parent about why he or she doesn't like certain drugs or forgets to take them. You may hear, “I don't like the way the drugs make me feel,” or “I can’t afford that prescription.” Again, enlist the help and advice of your parent’s doctor or pharmacist for a solution, such as a different formulation, a different drug, an easier-to-open bottle, or a better explanation of why the drug is important.
6. Consider alternatives to help you manage. Some parents don’t want to admit they need assistance, while others realize and are more than willing to accept outside help. Begin looking into home care and assisted living options.
Remind your parents that you care about them and want to help promote their health and well-being for many years to come.