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Developing an Organized Medication System at Home
Caregivers can be
overwhelmed with the number of medications that their loved
ones need to take on a daily basis. Medication errors are
too common, with administration of drugs accounting for 38
percent of errors. According to the ALARIS Center for
Medication Safety and Clinical Improvement, at least 7,000
deaths annually are blamed on medication errors.
There are many options on the market for organization
system. Deciding which one is right for your family needs to
be the driving force behind the system that you ultimately
choose. Most all of us are familiar with pill organizer
boxes with various slots for time of day and days of the
week. There are other options, though, that can be just as
effective when implemented consistently.
There are many issues to consider when setting up an
organization system for your loved one. Some of these
How old is the person who is
taking medication? Are they old enough to take their own
medication or do they need someone else to give it for them?
Are they capable of taking
their medication independent of your help? Perhaps your loved
one needs help in keeping track of which medications need to be
given at a particular time of day, but they may be capable of
choosing the correct medication from the shelf.
Do they have impaired
eyesight? Would it help to have larger print on the bottles?
Does your loved one
understand why they take each medication? (NOTE: Patients with
some level of dementia and even children may not be able to
comprehend the medications given.) It is important that persons
understand the reason behind the medication to the best of their
ability. As people age the answer, “because the doctor said so,”
may not be acceptable.
Will others who may assist
with caregiving be able to understand the system readily? If you
leave town or are a long-distance caregiver, the system needs to
be readily understandable to other friends, family, or even paid
caregivers who may be in the household while you are away.
Is the system flexible so
that changes in medications and dosing schedules can be
adjusted? It is not uncommon for doctors to change medications
when there are chronic conditions involved. Be sure to develop a
system that can adapt to these modifications and be implemented
without confusion to your loved one.