Be your family’s “Medicine Team Leader”

If more than one family member is involved in caring for an older adult, designate one person as your family’s “Medicine Team Leader.” Though most family members have good intentions and want to help, it can be confusing and possibly dangerous to have too many people involved with managing medicine related issues.

The family’s “Medicine Team Leader” should be the primary contact for healthcare professionals as well as the older adult in your care. However, the team leader should also be able to delegate responsibilities and tasks involved with care.

Your healthcare professional or health insurer may be able to direct you to free and easy-to-use secure web sites and web-based tools that help store health and medicine management information in one place. These tools may offer a place to record notes in one location that can help communicate a loved one’s health status to other family members. Not Internet savvy? Ask another family member or friend to help communicate specific information that you provide as the “Medicine Team Leader.”

Use the following 10 “managing medicines tips” when caring for an older adult 

  1. Review any new over-the-counter (OTC) medicines prescribed for the person in your care. Some medicines can be harmful to older adults. Ask a healthcare professional or pharmacist for guidance.
  2. If possible, ask one healthcare professional to be in charge of coordinating medical care and tracking medicines to check for potential drug interactions and other risks associated with taking multiple medications.
  3. Share an up-to-date list of all medicines (OTCs and prescriptions) and dietary supplements at each healthcare visit.
  4. Ask a healthcare professional or pharmacist to review the medicine list each time you go to for a visit.
    a.  Are any of these medicines no longer necessary?
    b.  Are any of these medicines potentially unsafe?
    c.  Could any of these medicines interact with another medicine or dietary supplement?
    d.  Do any of these medications need a dose adjustment?
  5. Keep all medicines in one location (away from children and pets).
  6. Be sure the person in your care knows when to take each medicine (and at what dose).
  7. Suggest a pillbox or other reminder system if you think the person you are caring for needs help remembering how and when to take their medicines.
  8. Ask a pharmacist or healthcare professional for guidance if you find managing many medicines for the person in your care is complicated. It can be challenging and confusing to manage multiple medicines on a daily basis—often more than once a day.
  9. Ask if any tests are needed to check how the medicine is working in the body. Follow through to make sure that the results of these tests are communicated promptly, and recommended by the prescriber, before refills are ordered.
  10. Go with the person in your care and offer support, ask questions, and to share information about his or her condition, and to share any concerns or problems with his/her medicine. Be sure to take notes that you can review later.

For more information please see: NCPIE's "Make Notes and Take Notes"