Medication mishaps are dangerous for anyone. Forgetting to take even one dose of an important medication could cause someone to experience cardiac arrest or an insulin-related emergency. People with memory loss often struggle with remembering when to do this important part of their health care regimen, and you can use these strategies to help your patient avoid forgetting to take their next dose.
Many people rely on alarms to remind them when to take their medication, but your patient might not hear a clock go off if they are in another room. The same can also be said for a smartphone alarm if they don’t carry it around the house. Watches are a great way to make sure that your patient hears an alarm no matter where they roam.
When you bring home the medicine from the drugstore, you can load it into a pill dispenser that serves several important functions. Be sure to find a drugstore that consistently has your patient’s pills in stock. Having a store nearby that offers the medication they need helps minimizes the chances of an emergency occurring. Pill dispensers will automatically release the appropriate dosage for your patients that prevents them from taking too much or too little. Modern dispensers also have alarms built-in to remind your patient to stop by for their medication delivery.
Your patient is more likely to forget to take their medication when they are doing something that disrupts their routine such as being away from home. If you know that your patient has a doctor’s appointment around the same time that they need to take their medication, then you might want to give them a verbal reminder. If they are too sick to get to their pill dispenser, then they may need you or someone else to make it easier for them to take their medication on time.
Medication journals are the perfect way to monitor a patient who has multiple caregivers. If your patient is mobile and coherent, then they should use the log independently as much as possible. A medication log can be a basic spiral notebook, or you could use the printout from an automatic dispenser. Either way, make sure that someone is responsible for checking it every day to see if you need to add extra safeguards to your patient’s medication management plan.
Once you’ve developed a routine, make sure to share it with your patient’s other caregivers. Making sure that everyone knows to check the medication journal or print out a report from the pill dispensers provides that extra layer of protection for preventing a mishap. Then, remember to adjust the plan to changing situations. Adding new medications will require you to enter them into the dispenser and alarm schedule.