Most seniors take at least one medication to manage chronic or acute health conditions. But when a senior is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, independent medication management can become much more difficult.
Conditions like Alzheimer’s disease impair a senior’s cognitive ability to plan and stay organized. This cognitive impairment can make it more difficult for seniors to successfully adhere to treatment plans, potentially increasing their risk of medication errors and avoidable hospitalizations.
If you care for a senior with dementia, it’s essential to have a plan in place to help your relative continue to take their medication correctly. Proper medication management allows seniors to stay safe and well, recover from acute illnesses quickly, and effectively manage chronic health issues like diabetes or heart conditions.
5 Medication Management Tips for Family Caregivers
If you’re caring for a loved one with dementia at home and have concerns about their ability to manage their own medication needs, these five strategies could help:
1. Use pill organizers. Pill organizers can be used to help seniors remember to take the right medications at the right time each day. A range of pill boxes is available to suit a whole host of medication needs. For example, if your loved one takes just one medication per day, you may opt for a box with seven compartments – one for each day. If they need to take different medicines at different times, boxes with multiple daily compartments are also available.
2. Leave them reminders. It’s all too easy to forget to take a dose of medication, and conditions like dementia can make this even more likely. If your loved one fails to take their medicine, simple tools like mobile phone reminders (or visual cues like sticky notes around the house) might be enough to help them out during the earlier stages of their disease. However, if you’re concerned that your loved one is still at risk of missing doses, or if you think they might take too much medication at once, speak to their physician for advice immediately.
3. Make sure they have what they need. Keeping tabs on what they need and when can help ensure your relative stays stocked up with their vital medications. It might be helpful to keep an up-to-date list of your loved one’s current medications, dosages, and when they will run out. Staying organized often becomes much more difficult for seniors with dementia, and keeping track of multiple medications may be particularly daunting.
4. Take additional safety precautions. Keep an eye on your loved one’s medication and ensure that anything expired is thrown out and replaced. Suppose you’re worried about your relative taking too much of their prescribed or over-the-counter medication. In that case, you may wish to store them in a securely locked cabinet, providing the correct doses yourself throughout the day.
5. Make taking medication as easy as possible. Some seniors with dementia might be reluctant to take their medication or find it difficult to swallow. If they struggle to swallow, consult their physician to determine whether their medication is available in a chewable, dissolvable, or liquid form. If your loved one is unwilling to take their medication, it may help to use simple, clear instructions explaining what it is, what it’s for, and how to take it.
Finding Additional Support
Over the course of a condition like Alzheimer’s, there often comes a time when things like reminders and organization aren’t enough. At this point, it may no longer be possible or safe for a senior to manage their medication needs independently or even with the support of a family caregiver. For example, locking away medication and providing the correct doses throughout the day may be impossible if you can’t be with your relative 24/7 or have other commitments like work or children.
If poor medication management is the only thing your loved one currently struggles with, this may be the perfect solution. Enlisting the support of a medication management service will allow a professional caregiver to visit your loved one and ensure they take the right medications at the right time. Looking into medication management services or residential assisted living communities with a memory care program may be beneficial.
How Can Residential Assisted Living Memory Care Help?
If your relative is also struggling with activities of daily living (ADLs) like getting dressed, eating, or maintaining personal hygiene, or if you’re feeling particularly overwhelmed as a family caregiver; residential assisted living could be a great choice. In communities offering memory care, caregivers are experts in providing the proper support for seniors with dementia. Staff trained in medication management are typically responsible for helping seniors take their medications correctly, monitoring for adverse reactions or side effects, and liaising with other healthcare professionals.
Senior living communities with a memory care program also provide much more than ADL support to enhance the quality of life for seniors with dementia. For example, memory care communities often offer activities tailored to the needs of those with cognitive decline. Excellent security systems, close supervision, and locked entrances improve resident safety and help prevent wandering. Additionally, memory care communities often have a range of on-site amenities like beauty salon services or spas. These amenities can allow residents with dementia to continue living independently within a supportive and safe setting.
If your parent or relative has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or another condition causing neurocognitive decline, search for residential assisted living memory care in Metairie early. Researching care options will allow your loved one to make decisions and be as involved in the process as they like. To arrange a personalized tour of our communities, call us today.