many challenges including making sure medications are
refilled and there are many things which can make this
easier. Firstly, do not wait till the last pill as this
may lead to other problems. You may be able to get the
medication refilled, but you may end up finding the
prescription has expired or has no more refills left.
You will then have to call the healthcare provider to
request a refill or call the pharmacy to fax the
providerís office a refill request. Many healthcare
providersí offices say allow 24 to 48 hours for a refill
request, so a little advance planning can go a long way.
Secondly, it is helpful to have a list
of all medications and supplements being taken,
including the name of the medication or supplement,
dose, and frequency taken. It helps if the dose is
specific, such as how many milligrams per capsule or
tablet, rather than a generic reference such as one or
two capsules or tablets. This is only an example, so
read the label on the medication container for the
dosage information. The list can come in handy for
requesting refills, answering questions which may come
up at the pharmacy or on visits to a healthcare
provider. Another addition which would be especially
useful for long-distance care providers would be the rx
number from the prescription bottle. Just remember the
rx number may change at times, such as if the medication
is filled at another pharmacy.
Next, consider which method is most
convenient for you to refill medications. When picking
up medications in person at the pharmacy, save yourself
some time by using your telephone. Call in advance to
fill medication prescriptions and to check if the
medicines are ready. Some pharmacies even offer a
service to send a text message to your cell phone
alerting you when your medications are ready to be
picked up. It also helps to try to pick up medications
during a less busy time of day. You may learn this
through experience or through talking with the pharmacy
staff. If you use the automatic refill system available
at some pharmacies, the medication will already be
filled and ready for pick up when it is due to run out.
Also, taking advantage of pharmacies offering 90-day
refills for medications taken on a regular basis can
decrease the time spent in line at the pharmacy.
Medications may also be delivered by
mail. Check with individual pharmacies for availability.
The US Department of Veterans Affairs allows veterans to
request refills for medications via the telephone and
online through the My HealtheVet system. Just remember
to allow time for mail order medications so you do not
end up running out. Some pharmacies even offer personal
delivery services, but this is not so readily available
in all areas.
Medications may be a day-to-day
challenge of caregiving, but hopefully some of these
tips will make prescription refills easier. Remember not
to wait till the last moment to reorder medications.
Preparedness saves time and frustration. Also, utilize
technology whenever possible as an aide to make your job
easier. You have more important things to do than spend
any more time than necessary in the pharmacy line.
Sabrina Bullock is an RN, BSN with
experience in postpartum, newborn, and home health
nursing. She has been a nurse for over 15 years. She has
been a caregiver for her spouse who has multiple health
problems including heart failure, atrial fibrillation,
and COPD. She has been a long distance caregiver for her
mother with multiple health problems including diabetes
and chronic pain. She has also been caregiver to several
other family members through the years. She has a strong
interest in alternative healthcare and utilizes many
methods such a aromatherapy, homeopathy, and herbs with
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