Sometimes caregiving feels like just one crisis after the next. But it is often the day-to-day hassles that wear you down. Take managing medications, for example. Many caregivers feel frustrated when a parent or other family member rearranges the pill box , forgets to take medications or just says "No!"
"Nonadherence" — failure to take medications on time or in the proper dosages — can lead to serious side effects, such as confusion, dizziness or falls, which result in emergency room visits or hospitalization.
What can you do to help? Let's start with what you shouldn't do. Don't get into an emotional struggle with your family member. Arguing or coaxing will end in bad feelings, often spilling over into other aspects of your relationship. And it won't alter anyone's behavior anyway.
Here are some suggestions for a better approach.
Consider an evaluation
Create an up-to-date medication list
Make sure you include everything your family member takes — not just doctor-prescribed drugs but also over-the-counter preparations like aspirin, laxatives, vitamins, herbal supplements and others. There are many online tools to help, such as the Next Step in Care medication management form from the United Hospital Fund.
Determine which meds are truly necessary
When you have an accurate and complete list, work with the doctor to reduce it to the bare minimum. Just cutting down on the number of medications can help reduce the hassle.
"Ask the doctor if each drug is necessary, whether it is appropriate for the person you are caring for, and whether it can be administered once a day instead of, say, every four hours," advises Anne Myrka, a pharmacist at IPRO, a nonprofit health care organization that works with Medicare to improve quality of care for beneficiaries.