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Medication Management Tips for Your Loved One with Alzheimer’s

In today’s world, there are prescriptions or other medications available for just about every problem a senior adult may face today. “It can be very easy for older adults to lose track of the many prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs they are taking,” says Steve Carney, Wellness Coordinator/Administrator at Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr, located in Bryn Mawr, PA.  “If you are the caregiver for an older loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or other form of dementia, confusion over their medications can be a major issue with dangerous consequences. For those with memory loss, medication mistakes can seriously threaten their safety and health.”

To reduce the risks, it is important to follow a systematic approach that enables you to effectively manage all of your loved one’s medication needs.

The Special Medication Concerns of Loved One’s with Alzheimer’s

As noted in the article, “Medication Safety and Alzheimer’s,” person with Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia may be prescribed multiple medications, and may take medications for other conditions as well. Medications are powerful. Care needs to be taken, especially when more than one medication is being used.

Therefore, it is extremely important to work closely with your doctor and pharmacist as well as to follow experts’ recommendations for medication management for a loved one with memory loss.

Tips for Effective Medication Management

Based on the recommendations of the Alzheimer’s Association and other authorities, the following tips can help to assure that medications for your loved one with dementia are managed safely:

  • Coordinate with all care providers – A person with Alzheimer's may be under the care of more than one doctor. Make sure all health care team members know about any prescription and over-the-counter medications, including herbal or vitamin supplements. Each time you go to an appointment, take a list of current medications and dosages.
  • Ask your doctor or pharmacist to check for possible drug interactions – When a new medication is prescribed, ask whether it is okay to take it with other current medications. Also, remind the healthcare team of any allergies to medications or side effects that have occurred in the past.
  • Create a comprehensive list – Maintain a detailed list of all of your loved one’s medications and the schedule for when they should be taken.
  • Follow all directions to the letter – Always be sure the person in your care takes the medication exactly as prescribed.
  • Maintain a list of all medications and keep a log of medications given – People with chronic health problems often take many medications at various times of the day. Make a list of all of them and have a system for keeping track of when they are given to reduce the increased risk for confusion. Using a pill box or keeping a daily calendar can help ensure medication is taken as prescribed.
  • Never make changes to medications without consulting the doctor or pharmacist – Do not take it upon yourself to vary the dosage or timing of their medications based on what you think may be best. If you have concerns about a medication’s effectiveness, speak directly to the physician who prescribed it. They may want to try adjusting the dosage or timing of drugs, within certain limits, to improve the results.
  • Swallowing Issues – If the person in your care has trouble swallowing their medication, do not try to crush it for them without talking to the doctor or pharmacist first.
  • Storage Safety – Do not store medicines that will be taken internally (swallowed) in the same cabinet with medicine that will be used externally such as lotions and creams. Also, store medications in a cool, dry place, e.g., not the bathroom. You can remove the cotton from each bottle so that moisture is not drawn in.
  • Easy-to Open Containers – If childproof containers are too hard for you to open, ask the pharmacist for containers that are not childproof. However, be sure they are not accessible to your loved one with memory loss or children that may be in the house.
  • Have emergency numbers easily accessible –Keep the number of your local poison control center or emergency room handy. If you suspect a medication overdose, call poison control or 911 before taking any action.

Steve adds, “By being aware of the risks to your loved one’s safety and health and following these expert tips, you can reduce the chance of errors and make your own life easier as well.”

Your Family Resource for Memory Care Information and Support

In addition to being the area’s leading provider of specialized memory care, life enriching activities, and purposeful living, Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr is also trusted source of information for area families. We invite you to read our articles and tips on a variety of memory care topics including helpful advice for at-home memory care caregivers.   

We Would Love to Hear from You!

If you have comments or questions about our blog on medication management for Alzheimer’s, we’d love to hear from you. We also encourage you to share any of your caregiving experiences in our comments section.

Engaging Days. Meaningful Moments.

Loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease or other memory impairments require specialized care and support. They also deserve a lifestyle rich in dignity and fulfillment. Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr provides residents with Engaging Days and Meaningful Moments that emphasize individual abilities, encourage socialization and promote the highest level of independence possible. We offer a complete continuum of leading-edge programs, services and amenities that address the total physical, emotional and social needs of residents in a caring setting that offers individual suites with large private baths and the comforts of home. Our community touches hearts and changes lives.

Helping Families Be “Family” Again

Memory loss caused by Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or another form of memory impairment doesn’t only affect the person who has it – it affects the entire family.

If you have a loved one with early- to mid-stage memory loss, you know how challenging it can be to provide the care that’s needed while trying to maintain balance in your life. As care needs increase, you may not be able to meet them physically or emotionally. It’s often difficult to be available to care for your loved one’s health and well-being around the clock.

If and when the time comes to seek additional help, place your trust in Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr. We lift the stresses and worries of being a caregiver from your shoulders, enabling you and your family to enjoy time with your loved one again.

For more information, please call Sharon at (484) 380-5400 or contact us online.

Disclaimer: The articles and tip sheets on this website are offered by Impressions Memory Care at Bryn Mawr and Main Line Senior Care Alliance for general informational and educational purposes and do not constitute legal or medical advice. For legal or medical advice, please contact your attorney or physician.