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The Dansville Online
  • Got a minute? The right med at the right time

  • Admit it. You've done this: received a prescription from your doctor that must be taken four times a day, been great about it the first day or so, then forgot more doses than you remembered for the remainder of the bottle. Well, imagine trying to juggle five, 10 or even more medications on a daily basis. That would be next to impossible for most of us, even those who still have their complete memory system intact.

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  • Admit it. You've done this: received a prescription from your doctor that must be taken four times a day, been great about it the first day or so, then forgot more doses than you remembered for the remainder of the bottle. Well, imagine trying to juggle five, 10 or even more medications on a daily basis. That would be next to impossible for most of us, even those who still have their complete memory system intact.
    Now picture a senior citizen, memory not what it used to be, trying to keep up with a complicated drug regimen day after day. Missing doses or mixing up directions between prescriptions could cause some serious health issues, or even death. According to the National Consumers League, 125,000 people die every year because they don't take their medicines correctly.
    For a senior citizen on multiple meds who is having trouble taking them correctly, an ideal solution is to have them live with someone who can help them keep the medication schedule straight. Unfortunately, that is not realistic for many folks in this situation. The good news is there are some other methods of assisting them in taking the right medicine in the right dose at the right time.
    Possibly the simplest way to keep medications straight is to use a pill box. These range from a simple compartmented box to ones that you can carry in your pocket that vibrate when it’s time for a dose to ones with several compartments for each day and an alarm that sounds whenever it's time to take a dose. These can be loaded once a month and the reminders set, then you don't have to give it another thought for 30 days. These pill towers are readily available in drugstores, department stores and online.
    To take that concept one step further, there are 30-day alarm dispensers available that can track whether a dose has been skipped and alert a designated third party that a medication hasn’t been taken. Phillips Lifeline is one manufacturer of this type of dispenser and is available through the Noyes Hospital EARS Lifeline unit.
    Another approach to managing this issue is to sign up for an online medication reminder system that texts a message to the user when it is time for a med dose. You can sign up online, list all your medicines and the times that you need a reminder and the site will take care of the rest. Some of these sites offer this service for free, but it comes with the inconvenience of some advertising messages on your phone as well as the reminders. There are others that require a monthly fee that are ad free.
    The NCL manages a program that has a phone reminder system for free as part of their “Script Your Future” awareness campaign for medication safety. You can check this out at www.scriptyourfuture.org. As with any purchase, whether it is a dispenser system or a reminder system, it pays to do your homework. If something is free, make sure you understand what the trade-off may be, because there can be a catch. Prices vary widely on the fee-for-use systems, as do the services they offer, so make sure you know what you are signing up for before you send anyone your credit card information or put a check in the mail.
    Page 2 of 2 - Hopefully, if you or a loved one takes a number of medications, you will be able to find a reminder/organizing system that works well for your situation. It is so important to have a reliable, simple-to-use method so the right meds can be taken in the right dose at the right time.
    Pam Maxson is a health educator at Noyes Hospital in Dansville. If you have questions or suggestions for future articles, she can be reached at pmaxson@noyes-hospital.org or 585-335-4327.
     
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