Medication Management Tips for Older Adults


These medication management tips can help seniors who take multiple medications.

With an astounding 6.3 billion prescriptions filled in the U.S. each year, it’s not surprising that so many older individuals – 39% – are taking a minimum of 5 of them every day. And family caregivers understand firsthand the struggles of managing these medications for the older adults they love. As a matter of fact, more than 100,000 medication errors were reported last year for a variety of reasons, such as:

  • Failure to fill a prescription for a recommended medicine
  • Omitting at least one dose
  • Taking the wrong medicine
  • Taking an excessive amount of a prescribed medication
  • Discontinuing a medication too soon
  • Improper use of medical equipment such as inhalers and syringes
  • Taking damaged, expired, or incorrectly stored medicines

With the proper knowledge, motivation, and support, older adults can overcome the obstacles to medication adherence. To help the seniors in your life stay compliant with their prescribed medication plan, we’ve broken down some of the common challenges and provided medication management tips to help conquer them:

  • Memory Problems: A leading difficulty in medication adherence among older individuals is loss of memory. Those with dementia or Alzheimer’s might forget to take their prescriptions or may even take multiple doses, having forgotten that they had taken a dose earlier.
    • Tip: Make taking medications a part of an established, everyday habit, using medication dispensers and/or charts to stay organized.
  • Swallowing Problems: Some older adults have a problem with swallowing pills, and as a result, might attempt to chew or crush medications, triggering long-acting drugs to be released into the body too quickly.
    • Tip: Ask the physician or pharmacist if the prescription is available in a liquid or smaller pill form that is easier to swallow.
  • Accessibility Problems: Many older adults have difficulty with transportation and/or walking, making it difficult to get to the pharmacy to pick up prescriptions and refills.

It’s also important to educate yourself on each medication. Ask the health care provider or pharmacist for the following types of information:

  • The name of each medication (brand and generic)
  • Why each medicine is being prescribed
  • The length and duration for taking these medications
  • The correct dose and time of day to take the medications
  • Possible side effects and drug interactions, as well as how the medications should be taken (i.e. on an empty stomach, with a full glass of water, etc.)

Additionally, make sure to ask the doctor to periodically perform a medication review to confirm which medications are still necessary and which ones could possibly be stopped. You can assist by creating a detailed list of all prescribed medicines, OTC medications, and vitamins and supplements that the senior is taking, and bring it along to the next appointment. The list should cover all of the information above, plus:

  • The shape, size, and color of the medication (include a picture of the drug if possible)
  • The prescribing physician’s name and telephone number
  • The date each medicine was first taken, and whether or not it should be refilled and taken ongoing
  • The date the list was last updated

As one of the top-rated providers of senior home care in St. Charles and the surrounding area, we can help implement these medication management tips as well as provide a full range of customized home care services to improve health and quality of life. Contact us at (636) 493-9058 for more information and to find out if our services are available in your area.