Keeping up with a lot of prescriptions can be a real challenge. When you’re caring for a loved one, it can be difficult to be sure every dose is taken on time and as prescribed. Elderly and chronically ill individuals take more medications and see more doctors and specialists than any other group. Unfortunately, doctors don’t always communicate fully with each other. They may not be aware of all the medications prescribed, and adverse reactions can occur. For these reasons, it’s not surprising that medication mishaps are a leading cause of hospital visits.
That’s scary news, but technology offers some solutions to help make medication compliance safer and easier. A computerized medication record will enable you to easily maintain an up-to-date list of every prescription and over-the-counter drug and vitamin your loved one takes. We offer a central tracking system that enables you to also list the name, dosage, and frequency of the medication (e.g., Coumadin, 5 mg, once a day); the reason for taking it (blood clot prevention); any dosing directions (may be taken with or without food); as well as the start date. Space is provided to list the name and phone number of each prescribing physician and the pharmacy filling it. The information is maintained on a Web site and accessed by entering a user name and password.
Copies can be made to post on the refrigerator for paramedics to find, and you should send a copy to your loved one’s primary physician.
Electronic medication dispensers are a great way to manage prescription therapies more effectively to ensure that loved ones remain safe and independent for as long as possible. There are a number of machines on the market; most simply emit a tone to signal when it’s time to take the next dose. Others are more sophisticated, such as the IMD2, which uses voice, tone, light, and text messages to prompt the user.
All the machines set up in basically the same manner:
1. Load the medication dosages into the trays.
2. Set the clock to the appropriate time of day.
3. Program the alarm for one to four times a day, depending on the regimen.
4. Close the lid, and lock if desired.
Now the system is ready to go, and here’s what happens. When the time comes to take the next dose, an alarm sounds and the correct medication dose rotates into position so it, and only it, can be removed. The alarm will cease once the medication is taken from the machine. If no action is taken, the alarm will continue to signal once a minute for up to 30 minutes. The medicine dispensers can also be programmed to call a 24-hour response center if after a predetermined lapse of time the medication is not taken. The response center will alert a family member, neighbor, or caregiver of a noncompliance event. When it’s time for the next dose, the machine again signals a reminder and rotates the next dose into position.
With the aging of America, healthier lifestyles, and medical breakthroughs that enable us to live longer, our use of prescription drugs and supplements will surely increase. Using technology to help prevent problems caused by medication interactions and prescription noncompliance is one way to protect your loved one’s health.
Call us to arrange a demo of medication dispensers and request a free medical records card. You also can visit our Web site at www.noplacelikehomecare.com.