Elderly Live in Care and Medication Management at Home
Medication is often an important addition to someone’s daily routine. Depending on the type of medication, and how often the medication needs to be taken, a live-in carer may be the answer to you or your loved one’s needs.
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This guide looks into medication management at home, why it’s important, and how a live-in carer can help manage the medication of your parent or loved one.
Why is elderly medication management at home important?
Medication management at home can be a vitally important aspect of a healthcare routine. For some, ensuring that medication is taken on time and at the correct dose can be a daily struggle. The cost of a mistake can be high, with the health of the individual put at risk.
Management of medication is important in the elderly, as, when we get older, we are more likely to need to take medication regularly. This could be for a number of reasons, and for some people, they may need to take multiple medications each day. This can be quite confusing for people as they age and may become more forgetful, leading to missed doses, or double doses. This kind of mismanagement can be serious, and could end up with a trip to hospital depending on the severity of the situation. If have noticed a loved one managing their medication themselves, it may be a good idea to review the situation and find out whether they are safe to do this without extra support.
How do you manage medication for the elderly?
Medication management at home for the elderly can include various strategies to ensure that your loved one receives the correct medication and dosage each day. It is a good idea to store all medication, vitamins, and health supplies in one location so that it is less likely that anything will go missing. Also, if your loved one has dementia, then they may be inclined to help themselves with medication or forget that they have taken a dose, so you can keep the medications locked away and secure. It will also be important to keep medication in the original bottles or containers so that they are clearly labelled.
Medication at home should also be stored correctly, in areas that are not damp and are out of direct sunlight. It can also be helpful to keep a list of all the medications your loved one needs to take along with the dosage and time it should be taken. Alarms can be set as reminders to take medication and medications can be sorted into a pill organiser for the week to help keep track of what has been taken.
It can be important to ensure that there is always enough supply of medication at home, so management of medication also includes communication with GPs and pharmacies to ensure that there is the current amount of stock of medication for the person needing it.
Benefits of medication management services
Medication management services can be a real help for those who take a lot of medication. By letting a live in carer or specialist take the responsibility, your loved one can be more assured they won’t get confused by trying to manage things by themselves. Elderly medication management can be hard work and it is important to commit to the time that it needs so that mistakes are not made. A carer can handle medication management as part of their care duties, which most people may not automatically consider as a crucial element of caring but it can be a huge help, especially if you are not living with your loved one and therefore you are not worrying about whether they are adhering to their medication regime each day.
Medication management is broken down into five main areas;
- Administration of Medication
It is important to store medication in an appropriate place, away from children, pets or even adults who may not be able to understand the safe management of medicine. This may be in a locked cupboard or hidden out of sight. You should also consider the conditions where the medication is stored, as heat, air, light, and moisture can impact the performance of medication. It is best to store medication in a cool, dry place.
Some people find storing their medication in a Dosette box to be helpful for them. Dosette boxes are storage containers with small compartments that clearly show which tablets need to be taken on which day. Some Dosette boxes can be more advanced and allow pills to be spread out across a day or have locked compartments for security.
Dispensing includes the preparation and transfer of medication to the person taking the medication. The person needs to have as much independence as possible with dispensing their own medication. Some individuals may need support to ensure they take the correct dosage. Occasionally they may need help to make sure they’re taking the right medication, too. It may also be important to check the date of the medication, to make sure that the medication is not out of date and therefore unacceptable for usage. If this is the case, a pharmacy or GP may need to be contacted to order more medication.
Administration of Medication
How the medication is taken will differ between different medications and the reasons for taking them. For instance, some medication is oral, or others may be applied to the skin. Other routes for medication can include transdermal, parenteral, nasal, transmucosal, and ocular.
Disposal of medication
Medicines should be suitably disposed of, and medicines should never be thrown down the sink, flushed down the toilet, or simply binned. This is because disposed of medicines can contaminate the environment, or potentially end up in the wrong hands. All medicines, when disposed of, should be sealed in a tamper-proof bag and returned to or be collected by the pharmacy.
Record – Keeping
There should be a record of the medication, dosage and when it should be taken. This is to ensure any risk is minimised. Records should also include a list of any possible side-effects of the medication.
What happens if you take medication at the wrong time?
This depends on the type of medication that is being taken, however, generally, it is not something that you want to do frequently. For some medications, if you take them at the wrong time they might not work so well, and the recipient may experience more side-effects and toxicity. It is also important for some medication to be taken with food and not in conjunction with other medications, which may need to be considered when taking multiple medications per day.
Some conditions such as cardiovascular disease have a higher incidence of occurring in the mornings, so medication may need to be taken first thing after waking up. The important thing to remember is that each medication will have its own set of guidelines, and your doctor or pharmacist can also help you with understanding your medication regime. If you accidentally take a medication at the wrong time just once, then usually it is not too serious but repeatedly doing so may create ineffectiveness and put your health at risk.
Getting help with taking medication at home
As seen above, there are five major parts of medication management at home. Some people may require support with all five parts, others may need help with just one or two parts.
Medication management at home can be made easier when there is a carer who is trained and experienced in managing medication. A carer that comes into your home can provide you with support for all of the different aspects of medication management at home. This can help you feel reassured that your medication is as effective as possible. They can support you with taking your medication on time and take away some of the stress and worry around having to remember yourself.
Medication management services can provide a carer who has the expertise to manage a medication regime, while also providing someone who is aware of how it can disrupt your day. The carer can discuss medication requirements, side effects, and concerns. A carer who comes into the home will understand that you or your loved one may feel uneasy about someone else taking over responsibility for your medication. A carer will ensure the recipient remains as independent as possible with medication management at home but they can be on hand to support your loved one, if needed.
How do you deal with an uncooperative elderly parent?
If your elderly parent is being uncooperative with either handing over some responsibility to you or a carer, or with adhering to their medication regime, then you may have to sit down with them and gently explain your concerns. Medication safety at home in the elderly can be a joint effort and with time, hopefully, your parent will adjust to having you on their side supporting them. They may even find that they like it since there will be less for them to worry about.
If your parent is being particularly uncooperative due to a dementia diagnosis, then you may have to speak to the GP about your parent’s awareness of their choices to not take medication and whether they can make these choices. A capacity assessment can be carried out by a healthcare professional and it may lead to you or someone else close to your parent taking over the responsibility of medication. However, if your parent’s behaviour is quite out of character, then you may still want to talk to their GP about possible side effects and whether this is contributing to your parent not wanting to take their medication.
How a live-in carer for elderly can help
Live-in care or home care medication management services are often preferred for many individuals who do not want to move to a residential care home. A live-in carer can provide support with medication management during both the day and night, which can be important for some individuals who need to take medication late at night or early in the morning. This means that the responsibility of taking medication throughout all hours of the day can be passed to a carer. A live-in carer will also develop a close relationship with the person being cared for, which can make medication management a more collaborative approach, whilst maintaining the individual’s independence.
A caring relationship will also help foster a sense of trust, which can ensure your loved one will feel more relaxed when it comes to responsibility for medication management. A live-in carer discuss a routine, and how their medication regime fits in with this. They will also be well-rehearsed with the person’s routine, reducing the risk of error with medication administration.
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