Your elderly father lives alone, and the last few times you’ve been over to his house there were medicine bottles strewn all over the bathroom vanity. Not only is it unsafe, you’re pretty sure that some of dad’s meds have special storage requirements. But whenever you’ve tried to talk to him about implementing a better medicine storage system, dad just mumbles under his breath and walks away. What should you do? Storing a senior’s prescription medications properly is essential for several reasons, including their continued safety, health and wellbeing.
When Medications Aren’t Stored Properly
The average American aged 65-and-over takes seven different medications per day, which can get confusing. As a result, millions of seniors annually end up spending time in hospitals or nursing homes because they’ve mismanaged their meds.
Some of this growing problem stems from careless medication storage, which also impacts:
Many medicines have specific storage requirements, like being kept away from heat and humidity, because they can destabilize and lose their potency. Storing different medications together in something like a pillbox can also potentially reduce their efficacy and put a person at risk.
Small children are curious about colorful pills and sometimes mistake them for candy. And, seniors with memory loss oftentimes get confused and either forget to take their medications, or take too many and end up overdosing.
If medicine bottles are not neatly organized and easily accessible, the likelihood for non-compliance goes up. Not taking their medication for a condition like diabetes or heart disease can quickly place a senior in harm’s way.
Theft and Abuse
This is a serious problem for widely prescribed pain, anxiety and ADHD medications. Even family members sometimes get “sticky fingers” around their loved one’s pills- especially when they’re left out in the open.
In-home family or professional caregivers need to know exactly where a senior’s medicine bottles are, especially when their care recipient can’t communicate well or is otherwise incapacitated.
Keeping Dad Safer and More Compliant
Now that you’ve seen the potential risks associated with lax medicine management, here are some reliable storage and compliance strategies to help keep dad safer and healthier:
Get His Permission First
Sit down initially and voice your concerns with dad about his current medication storage system, or lack thereof, and why. Explain the potential risks to him and others, including grandchildren. If you’re still facing resistance, ask your father’s pharmacist or doctor to speak to him about the importance of proper medication storage. Once you’ve gotten dad’s approval, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get started. It might also be wise to ask his doctor’s office for an updated list of all dad’s medications.
Search and Organize
Next, gather up all the different medicine bottles from around your father’s home, including OTC medications, and start reading the labels. Don’t forget to check his coat pockets, bathroom and nightstand for stragglers. Read the expiration dates and properly dispose of any expired meds, including eye and ear drops, and any pills he took years ago for a short-term illness. Once you’ve determined which medications to keep, it’s time to find a safe place to store them in.
Think Cool, Dry and Dark
Unless the label states otherwise, try to store all medications in a cool, dry and dark spot, like an upper pantry cabinet or the fridge. Avoid storing them in bathrooms with a tub or shower due to the heat and humidity. And, lock all controlled substances securely away in a cabinet or drawer. If dad is still mentally alert, show him where the medications are being stored and why. If he has trouble remembering, consider completely taking over his medication management or hire a professional in-home caregiver to assist him.
In-Home Medication Management for Seniors
Managing an aging in place loved one’s medications can be hard when you’re busy or live far away. When you need a hand, contact Caring At Home. As a private family owned and operated agency, our fully licensed and insured caregivers will serve as an extended family in your senior’s home so they can continue aging comfortably in place right where they want to be.
In addition to medication monitoring and reminders, while in the home our highly trained aides can also perform duties like light housekeeping, personal hygiene, meals, and companionship. And, all our family trusted in-home services can be personalized into an affordable package when and where you need them! To learn more about Caring At Home, or to schedule a FREE, in-home care consultation for a special senior in your life, please visit us online today.