Medication Management During COVID

Your 1+1 Team
November 23, 2020

How In-Home Caregivers Can Help (And Also What They Won’t Do)

As our loved ones age, taking the right medications is especially important. Medications can help them keep chronic disease under control, recover from surgery or illness, maintain overall health, and live longer. But, medications must be safely and appropriately prescribed and administered. This is medication management or the process of overseeing medications to ensure they are properly taken so that they deliver expected and therapeutic outcomes. This includes both prescribed and over-the-counter medications or OTC.

We should state one very important issue here before we delve into the topic of medication management. Only a doctor, healthcare provider, or pharmacist should prescribe and guide your family member on medications. In-home caregivers referred by 1+1 Cares will not—and should not—manage any aspect of medication management other than reminding people to take their medication at the proper time.

Why is medication management important?

The Kaiser Family Foundation states that nine in ten adults over the age of 65 take prescription medicine, and this rate increases with age. According to Medscape, people over the age of 65 makeup 12% of the U.S. population, but account for 34% of all prescription medication.

So, it’s likely that your aging family member, too, is on at least one prescription or OTC medication. In many cases, your family member may even be considered as a “polypharmacy”, or the use of more than five medications. Polypharmacy among at-risk populations, such as the elderly, increases the risk of adverse medical outcomes.

The risks of improper medication management are serious. Not adhering to prescribed instructions accounts for up to half of chronic disease treatment failures and 125,000 deaths per year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Taking the proper medications, as prescribed, in the right dose, frequency, method, and at the right time, is a critical consideration for your aging family member.

COVID adds a challenge to proper medication management. Friends and family may not be visiting as much—or at all—amidst the pandemic. In many cases, these visitors would have reminded your loved one to take their medication. Finding in-home strategies and resources, such as a qualified caregiver referred by 1+1 Cares, can help your loved one stay engaged and safe even whilst isolated during the pandemic.

How can I help my loved one properly manage their medications?

Again, we want to emphasize that only your doctor, healthcare provider, and pharmacist should prescribe and guide your family member on medications. These professionals have the expertise, licenses, an overall view of your loved one’s complete health history, status, and medication needs.

That said, there are tips and strategies to help your loved one. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), for example, shares several tips to help your loved one properly manage their medication. These are all tips that you can share with your family member and work with them to do:

  • Take medications at the same time every day.
  • Connect taking medications with a daily routine like brushing your teeth or getting ready for bed. But, make sure these routines complement any instructions such as taking medication with or without food.
  • Keep a “medicine calendar”.
  • Use a pill container with day and AM/PM markings
  • Refill pill containers at the same time each week.
  • Refill pill containers for multiple weeks
  • Purchase timer caps for pill bottles and set them to go off when your next dose is due.

Source: Why You Need to Take Your Medications as Prescribed or Instructed, U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Is your loved one into tech and gadgets? Do they use apps for other purposes, such as staying in touch with loved ones or participating in virtual exercise classes? Another tip is to use a pill reminder app. Single Care shares a list of seven recommended pill reminder apps. All of the apps are available for free for both Android and iPhone. What others do you use? We’d love to hear your suggestions!

Medication Reminder Apps:

Medisafe Pill Reminder
Bedsider Reminders
Pill Reminder All in One
TabTime Vibe Vibrating Pill Reminder (not an app but a storage device)
MedMinder (not an app but an automated pillbox)

Another source of help: Medication reminders from qualified in-home caregivers

As our loved ones age, they may experience forgetfulness, memory loss, and dementia. This can make a core tenet of medication management—remembering what to take, how, and when—complicated. Amidst the pandemic, visits from trusted friends and families may be more limited. This unfortunately removes another opportunity for timely medication reminders.

Generally, as your loved one ages, it’s important to communicate with your doctor, healthcare provider, and pharmacist. Even medications that your loved one has been taking for a long time can elicit different responses and effects as we age. This includes changes in metabolism, weight loss or gain, effects on the brain and nervous system, and changes to kidney and liver function. All of this can all affect how the body tolerates and responds to even known medications.

But once you have the proper medications prescribed and understand what to take, why, when, and how, simply remembering to do so can still be a challenge. (And not just for the elderly, but for all of us in our busy lives!).

Qualified caregivers referred by 1+1 Cares can play an important role here, to remind your loved one to take their medication. But keep in mind that caregivers referred by 1+1 Cares can only remind them to take medications. Caregivers are not licensed to manage medications. They can not and will not administer or manage medications. However, if you can’t be around your family member 24/7, and If your loved one needs to take medication at a time that you’re not around or available, a qualified caregiver can remind them to do so.

1+1 Cares Caregiver Vetting Process

Keep in mind that one thing that differentiates caregivers who are referred by 1+1 Cares from other agencies or private-found help is our vetting process. We screen every interested caregiver and do an end-to-end background check on every candidate. All caregivers referred by 1+1 Cares are vetted, qualified, and carry liability insurance. This helps to protect you and everyone involved in the caregiving process. To be included in our referral service, caregivers must have a minimum of either two years of experience or one year of experience plus be a certified nursing assistant or home health aide. For further security and protection, we do a criminal background check and also verify:

  • Work eligibility in the U.S.
  • Sufficient liability insurance
  • Current driving insurance
  • Driving record
  • References

Even with all of these safeguards in place to protect you, in-home caregivers should only serve to remind your family member to take their medications. But, that’s a key step toward safe and proper medication management, even amidst the isolation of the pandemic. Here are a few ways that a caregiver can help:

  • Clearly inform your caregiver about all medications and when they should be taken. It’s best to also write this information down. A caregiver can then set their own reminders (such as a repeating alarm on a mobile phone or wearable device) to alert your loved one to take their medication.
  • If a loved one has difficulty with vision or reading, a caregiver can recite the instructions and information on a prescription bottle or packaging, to remind them what it is and when they need to take it. (Again, the caregiver should only be reminding your loved one to take medication. They should not be interpreting or instructing them based on prescription information.)
  • A caregiver can also help your loved one create post-it notes or other visual reminders. These can be placed around the home to help remind them to take medications in the proper dosage and at the prescribed time. If your loved one is a list-maker but struggles with penmanship, a caregiver can assist them with writing.
  • If you research one of the above apps or automated storage devices, a caregiver can assist your loved one in downloading and setting up the app.
  • Caregivers also offer general assistance around the house, such as with cleaning, pet care, or bathing. So, your loved one can have a clean and safe space to rest and focus on things like medication management and well-being.
  • If your loved one needs to travel to a clinic or pharmacy to fill a prescription, a caregiver can provide safe transport for them to do so.

We hope that this post provides some helpful information about what medication management is and why it matters. The health and safety of your loved one are of utmost concern to the entire 1+1 Cares team, including the qualified caregivers we refer. Since 2007, our mission has been to make high-quality, affordable care accessible and to provide meaningful impact for the people who need assistance, the families who love them, and the caregivers who perform these critical services. At 1+1 Cares, our goal is to make this process easy and affordable. Referring you to a qualified caregiver is our way to relieve some of your stress and uncertainty. This includes remembering to take the right medication. Please get in touch with us today.

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