Managing and Organizing Medications

Written by Martha on March 28th, 2011

We all know for any trip to the DR we will need a list of all medications we take regularly. Usually this is not a big deal … until suddenly it becomes a big deal.

Recently my dear mother-in-law has been struggling to get her medications stabilized after a hospital stay. As a diabetic who also is on Coumadin to thin her blood, trying to balance the interactions is tricky and her medications can change weekly.

The situation can be confusing not only to the patient, but to children and other caregivers who try to keep up with it all.

Both patient and family have to work together to keep medications straight.

The three key pieces necessary to organize and manage medications are:

  1. A written record of medications including the dosage, schedule, what each treats, and the refill schedule.
  2. A reliable method to know when you have taken each dose.
  3. A specified storage place or container to keep the daily prescription drugs that is out of the reach of children.

Why is it so important to have that written record?

Again, each physician is going to ask you for the list, so you may as well go in prepared.

The written record keeps all parties informed as to what the regimen is. You never know when a primary caregiver will become incapacitated. Someone else will be able to step in without a hitch if the medication list is always up to date.

By including refill due dates, it is easier to see at a glance when to contact the pharmacy. That way you are sure keep crucial medicines on hand.
A computerized copy of the medicine chart will make it simple to update when medication or dosage changes. Then you can print out the new chart – 2 copies, one for you, one for your physician.

By a reliable method to keep track of pills taken, do you mean a pill reminder box?

Yes, a weekly pill reminder box is one of the easiest tools to see what you have taken when.
Ideally you will purchase two pill boxes so you can be preparing the next week’s medications before you (or your family member) are done with this week’s. Rather than the standard ugly plastic, get rainbow reminders or discreet traveling kits.

Your third recommendation is to store all daily prescription drugs in one place or container. That seems like a no brainer.

Yes, it does. You would be surprised how easily one prescription bottle can go on vacation if there is not a designated container.

I like using a portable container myself – maybe even one with a handle. It will be easier to carry with you to the place where you can sit comfortably to fill the pill reminders.

Once you get into a system of recording, preparing, and assuring medication is taken on time (whether that is for you or for a loved one) it will become a habit. The less brain power and effort needed, the more likely that action will be performed consistently.

With the right system in place, even laziness (mine, especially) will not interfere with maximum health and safety!

Special offer –  a free downloadable Medication Chart

Image credit: CC-BY lauren nelson

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