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Managing medications for the elderly

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ASK THE EXPERT: Managing medications for elderly
prescription_management.pngMy elderly parents takes many medications. Can you give me any tips on how to manage this?

Elderly patients on average take three to five medications a day and the list grows with multiple chronic diseases and doctors. It is imperative that patients know their medications, know what they are for, what dose and what to avoid (for example, other medications or food). To help ease some of the anxieties, here are some tips on how you can help your family members or friends manage their medications.

  • Limiting their prescription fills and over-the counter products to one pharmacy can help reduce adverse drug reactions by allowing their pharmacist to see the “whole picture” and eliminate potential harmful drug interactions and duplicate therapies.

  • Keeping a daily medication diary can help improve compliance. Several printable versions are available online. Visit or

  • Making charts can be helpful too.

  • Ask their pharmacist to attach LARGE print labels on the bottles. Most pharmacies can also print them in multiple languages too.

  • Use daily/weekly pill organizers. Help your family member or friend to fill them. Electronic reminder pillboxes and “talking” pill bottles are also available. If this is not feasible, use colored rubber bands or tape to differentiate bottles.

  • Store medications in different places (for example, nightstand for “bedtime” doses or the kitchen for multiple doses). Remember to always keep medications out of children’s reach.

  • Go with your family member or friend to the doctor and remember to take their medication list/diary to each visit. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. You have the right to know.

  • Contact their local pharmacist if they need help managing their medications (for example, separating the medications throughout the day so the pill load is not the largest in the morning).
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