Seniors take more medicine on average than other age groups. Starting from around the age of 65, the number of pills they have to take daily keeps going up for most elderly.
Keeping track of which pill to take at what time can be difficult even for seniors without dementia.
It’s of course harder for those with Alzheimer’s and other form of dementia.
Pill organization is, quite literally, a matter of life and death. So what is the best way to organize pills for elderly? How to help elderly remember medications?
Here are some useful tips on how you can help your loved one organise their pills.
Note Down Details of all Current Medications
The first step is to determine what medications they are currently taking, the dosage for each and how often they should take it.
Write down these details for easy reference.
Add extra information for each medication such as when it needs to be refilled, possible side effects, interactions with other drugs and what it treats.
Now that you know exactly what medication they are taking, you can create a convenient organisation system.
Get a Pill Organizer
You can get a pill organizer at your local pharmacy or buy one online. They come in different sizes and styles.
The most important thing is to find one that allows you to sort your medications into different days of the week and different times of the day.
You can use a simple pillbox that you use manually or get an automatic pill dispenser with configurable dispensing times and alarms.
Some automatic pill dispensers allow you or another caregiver to monitor dosages via a display on the dispenser or via a Bluetooth-connected app.
Set an Easy-to-Remember Schedule
If you have an automatic pill dispenser, it will probably sound an alarm when it’s time to take a pill. In that case, remembering to take medication is not a problem.
If you have a manual pill organiser or none at all, create a schedule that they’ll find easy to remember.
The most effective way to plan a schedule is to associate pill taking with specific times of the day such as after breakfast, after lunch or after brushing their teeth in the evening.
This makes it easy for them to remember exactly when to take a pill.
Set Digital Reminders
Alternatively, use digital reminders. You can easily set them up on a phone, even a basic phone.
Make sure you set the reminder ring loudly especially for seniors who are hard of hearing.
Another digital option is using a pill reminder and medication tracker app.
These apps make it easy to track dosages and you can set reminders. Some also allow family members and caregivers to track medications.
Note: Even with digital reminders, it’s still a good idea to set an easy-to-remember schedule. The phone’s battery can die or the alarm might go unheard.
Find a Way to Track Medications
Pill organisation is not just about sorting pills and setting reminders; it’s also important to track when they take pills.
This makes it easy for a family member or caregiver to check if there are any missed dosages.
If you are the one administering medication, you can use an app or a diary to track medication.
If your elderly loved one are taking the medicine on their own, find an easy way to track when they take medicine.
With a pill organizer, you can check whether pills for that day have been taken. Some automatic pill dispensers will also track dosages automatically and let you know if they’ve skipped some pills.
Alternatively, have them make a mark on the calendar or a diary for each medication they take.
Consult your Doctor or Pharmacist
If your loved one is having trouble taking certain medication frequently, ask your doctor or pharmacist if there is an alternative they can take less frequently – maybe just once a day.
Your doctor or pharmacist may also be of help if you find that there are too many pills to take.
They can combine some of the pills into a single dosage, making it easier to take the right medication.
Also make sure you tell your doctor about any over-the-counter drugs they are taking. Some of them are probably not necessary. Eliminating them would make things much easier.