Everything Seniors Need to Know About Medication Management

Everything Seniors Need to Know About Medication Management

As you get older, you may find yourself with multiple daily medications to treat a variety of conditions. According to Kaiser Family Foundation , “More than half of adults 65 and older report taking four or more prescription drugs compared to one-third of adults 50-64 years old and about one in ten adults 30-49 or 18-29.” (1)

If you have multiple daily tasks to take care of or are beginning to experience memory loss, it can be easy to forget to take your medication. These tips can help you manage your medication as you live independently and age in place.

1. Keep a Detailed List of Your Medications

The best way to manage anything is to stay organized. Create a detailed list of all the medications you are taking. Include any important information that you, your doctor, or a caregiver may need to know. This should include:

  • Name of Medication
  • Purpose of the Medication
  • The Strength and Dosage
  • The Time of Day You Take It
  • When You Started Taking It and When You Should Stop
  • Side Effects
  • Medications or Foods to Avoid While Taking the Medicine
  • Notes About What to Do If You Miss a Dose

It is good to have this type of information on hand so you can reference it whenever you need it. Put the list somewhere you can easily find it. A medicine list is also helpful to bring to your doctors’ appointments and can help new caregivers administer drugs properly.

2. Check Side Effects and Learn If Any Medicines are Contributing to Your Fall-Risk

Many medications include side effects that can affect your mental and physical abilities. It is important to understand what side effects come with your medications so that you can take precautions to keep yourself safe. Some common side effects of medicine include:

  • Headaches
  • Blurry Vision
  • Dizziness or Confusion
  • Weakness
  • Drowsiness or Fatigue
  • Dry Mouth
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea or Vomiting
  • Constipation or Diarrhea
  • Rashes or Hives
  • Heart Issues

Some common side effects can also increase the risk of falling. If you can’t see well, think clearly, feel weak, or are fatigued, it can increase your fall risk. According to PubMed, 94% of seniors are prescribed at least one medication that can increase their fall risk. (2) If you are taking any medications that are increasing your fall risk such as benzodiazepines, non-benzodiazepine prescription sedatives, antipsychotics, mood-stabilizers, or antidepressants, you may wish to consider a senior life-saving alert system to keep yourself safe.

There are multiple types of medical alert devices available to suit your specific needs. The in-home medical alert pendant is the most affordable option and is perfect for seniors who mainly stay at home. The mobile emergency alert system is best for more active seniors who enjoy getting out of the house to shop or visit loved ones. You can also add a GPS so that your emergency response agent can pinpoint your location. This allows you to get the help you need no matter where you roam.

Both the in-home and on-the-go options can be combined with fall detection technology. This technology includes a built-in fall detection sensor that automatically contacts a certified emergency response agent when it registers a fall. This is helpful if you injure yourself or have a condition such as dementia that prevents you from pressing your alert button. There is also a medical alert watch that looks exactly like a wrist watch and includes a weather app and pedometer.

When you press your personal alarm button or when the fall detection sensor registers a fall, you will be put into contact with a certified emergency response agent who will stay on the line with you until help arrives.

3. Take Your Medicine as Directed

It is important to take your medication as directed so that you can control your conditions properly. If you take more pills than directed, you can increase the side effects of the medication, which can be dangerous. On the other hand, if you take less, you will lose some of the effects of the medication and you may experience more of the symptoms from your condition.

The National Diabetes Association has studied medication adherence in older adults and found that, “There is a lot of evidence that patients are not taking their medications as prescribed. Lack of medication adherence contributes to poor patient outcomes and billions of health care dollars spent unnecessarily.” (3) Taking your medication as directed can help you prevent worsened medical problems.

4. Get an Automatic Pill Dispenser

According to the American Diabetes Association, “Many patients do not take medications as directed simply because they forget.” (4) If you are concerned about forgetting to take your medication, an Alert1 automatic medication dispenser can help you remember. This technology can be programmed for up to four medication reminders per day. It is easy to set up, tamper-proof, and includes a 48-hour rechargeable back-up battery for when you are traveling, or if the power goes out. When it is time to take your medicine, the dispenser will make an audible alarm sound to let you know.

Be sure to put the dispenser in a place where you can see and hear it every day so that you don’t miss your medication. You may also find it helpful to try and create a daily routine that incorporates taking your medicine. Routines help make taking your medication a habit rather than something you need to remember each day.

5. Use the Same Pharmacy

If you use different pharmacies for different medicines, keeping track of your medications can become even more tedious because you must remember when your prescriptions need refills, and where you must go to pick them up. By transferring all your medications to the same pharmacy, you can streamline your medicine management and get all of your pills and treatments in one place.

Getting your medication from the same pharmacy can also benefit you by building a relationship with your pharmacist. They will have all your medications on record and can help warn you if any of your medications have dangerous interactions when taken together. They can also help you with your health literacy, which is defined as “the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions.” (5) The American Diabetes Association, states “More than 77 million adults in the United States have basic or below-basic health literacy skills.” (6) It is crucial that you understand the directions with your medication. If you don’t understand something, be sure to ask your doctor or pharmacist.

6. Refill Your Prescription Before You Run Out or Set Up Autofill

You can’t always guarantee that your pharmacy will be able to fill your prescription on the same day that you request it. Therefore, you will want to pay attention to when your pills are running out so you can request a refill ahead of time. This way, you won’t have to do without your medication.

You can also set up autofill. This allows your pharmacy to keep track of your medications and automatically refill them for you. When it is time to refill, they will notify you through an app, phone call, text message, or email to let you know that your prescription is ready for pick up. Ask your pharmacy if they offer autofill service.

While picking up your medication, be sure to wear your mobile emergency medical alert for seniors. If you experience a medical emergency on the way to or from the pharmacy, you will have an instant and easy way to contact someone for help. When you press the panic button, a certified emergency response agent will come on the line to assess your situation. They will ask you questions, help keep you calm, and then send the appropriate level of care.

You may also want to consider an on-the-go fall prevention alarm for seniors. When the built-in sensor registers a fall, it will automatically contact an emergency response agent for you, even if you cannot press the alarm button.

7. Talk to Your Doctor or Pharmacist

If you have any questions or concerns about your medication, talk to your doctor or pharmacist. They can offer you the best senior health tips, solutions, and advice. Some medicine topics you may want to discuss with them include:

  • The purpose of your medicines
  • Dosage adjustments
  • Side effects and fall-risk
  • Alternatives
  • Interactions with other medications
  • Interference with eating and drinking
  • What to do if you miss a dose
  • Alternative medications that can help your conditions

If you are experiencing serious side effects or think you received the wrong medication, be sure to call the doctor or pharmacist as soon as possible. It important to your well-being that you get the correct medicine, are taking the right dosage, and that you aren’t experiencing harmful side effects.

8. Get Help from a Caregiver

If you still have trouble remembering to take your medication or experience trouble performing any other daily tasks while aging at home, consider in-home care. This can be a family caregiver or a professional caregiver. They can help you remember to take your medications at the right time and dosage.

A medical alert system for seniors with fall detection can also protect you from the side effects of your medicine. If you fall and can’t press the panic button for any reason, the fall detection sensor can contact an emergency response agent for you. Once connected, you can talk to the agent to let them know what happened and who you want them to contact. They will get you the help you need so that you can get back on your feet and back to your life.

Get Your Medications Organized Today

Ensure that you have the tools and knowledge you need to manage your medication properly. It is also a good idea to get an emergency response solution for some added protection while you are aging in place and taking medications that increase your fall-risk.

Whether you experience an emergency as a result of medication side effects or due to any other cause, Alert1 medical alert technology is an aging in place solution that can provide you and your loved ones with peace of mind that help is on stand-by wherever and whenever you may need it. Certified emergency response agents are waiting 24/7/365 to help you when you need it most.



1 Kirzinger, Ashley et al. Aug. 2019. Health Reform. KFF. Data Note: Prescription Drugs and Older Adults.

2 Shaver, Amy L. et al. Aug. 2021. Pharmacoepidemiol Saf. PubMed.org. Trends in Fall-Related Mortality and Fall Risk Increasing Drugs Among Older Individuals In the United States,1999-2017.

3,4,5,6 Kocurek, Barbara. Mar. 2009. Diabetes Spectrum. American Diabetes Association. Promoting Medication Adherence in Older Adults … and the Rest of Us.