Take Control of Your Medication Routine

Take Control of Your Medication Routine

As an occupational therapist, I’ve seen creative methods for organizing medications.  Everything from color coded Dixie cups, ice trays and rolled up socks! While these methods are resourceful, they can lead to serious medical complications. Here’s some tips on managing your medications.

Simplify Your Medication Routine

  • Use a Pill Box Organizer
    • This is the easiest method you can implement. Pill boxes come with two sections for morning and evening dosages or two times a day.  They also come with four slots for pills that are required three to four times a day. Filling up two pill boxes at the beginning of the month can significantly reduce time spent on this task.
    • Purchase boxes with contrasting colors between sections. With aging, our vision becomes impaired, making it hard to see the difference between clear compartments.  
    • Ask your pharmacy to set up medications in a blister pack. They will place all morning medications in one bubble, all evening pills in one bubble, etc.  
  • Protect Your Joints
    • If you have rheumatoid or osteoarthritis, opening up pill bottles daily is painful.  Decreased grip strength is a common ailment we treat with occupational therapy.
    • By using a pill box organizer, you only have to open bottles one time a week or two times a month, depending on how many pill box organizers you purchase.  
  • Set Voice Visual Reminders
    • Regular pill boxes are great if you remember to take pills.  If cognitive deficits are present, please ask your doctor for referral to occupational therapy or speech and language pathology to help with medication management.
    • Did you know there are medication boxes that will “talk” to you? You can record commands like, “Mom, take your morning medications.”  In addition, there are boxes that will flash colors and alarm until pills are taken.

The Risk of Missing Medications

  • Reasons for Hospitalizations
    • Missing medications is one of the top reasons for hospitalizations. This is especially true if you are a previous stroke victim and miss blood pressure pills like Norvasc, Carvedilol, etc.  
    • Take all medications or a detailed list with you to appointments. Doctors can assess dangerous combinations that make you too dizzy or cause blood pressure to drop too low.  

The Effects of Aging and Medication

Pharmacokinetics

    • This is how your body breaks down medications at a cellular level.  With aging, our renal function decreases by 1% each year over 30. It takes longer for body to metabolize and excrete medications.
    • It’s important to take medications during therapeutic window of prescription.  Some medications must be taken prior to breakfast and your body needs more time to break down morning medications before you take next pill. It’s important to keep a schedule.   
  • Poly Pharmacy
    • There is a problem with taking several medications. I once had a client who was complaining of fatigue. After investigation, majority of her medications had a side effect of fatigue.  Ask your doctor for options but never STOP taking medications on your own.

 

Thanks for reading!
Felicia Jones, MS, OTR/L
FOL Rehab Director – The Mansions Sandy Springs