Keeping an updated medication list for your aging parent

It seems like every time you take your elderly parent to a doctor’s visit, the office wants a new medication list. That can be frustrating, but to be fair, there are some good reasons why they keep asking.

Why Medication Lists Are Important for Seniors

Here are just a few of the reasons why people who are elderly need up-to-date medication lists:

  • People who have Alzheimer’s or dementia probably won’t be able to give caregivers an accurate account of their medications.
  • Elderly people tend to see a lot of doctors (there are tons in the Kansas City area), and each doctor may prescribe one or more medications. That can quickly add up to a lot of different drugs.
  • Seniors tend to have multiple medical problems, some of which are complicated. And medications for those problems often change while the dotor’s trying to find the right “fit” for the patient.
  • Prescriptions are sometimes filled at more than one pharmacy. Most pharmacies have alerts built into their computer systems to let them know if there could be a potential interaction between medications. Filling prescriptions at multiple pharmacies removes this potential safety net.
  • Knowing which medications a senior is on can help doctors determine if symptoms are being caused by medications or medication reactions.
  • Medications can be dangerous. Sometimes even deadly if not properly managed.

Starting and Keeping Your List

Different people use different methods of recording their parents’ medication lists. Some do it the old-fashioned way by just putting pen to paper. Others use computer spreadsheets. And others prefer apps. Use whatever method will be easiest for you to keep updated.

  • Start by finding out what medications your parent is currently taking. The easiest way to do this is to ask for all the pill bottles. If your parent has Alzheimer’s or dementia, or just isn’t a good historian, call his or her doctors and ask what has been prescribed.
  • Compile your list by recording all medications using your chosen method. Include the name of the drug, the dosage, and how often it should be taken. Also include any over-the-couter medications, vitamins, and dietary supplements.
  • Make a copy of the list and put it in a place where it won’t be left behind when your parent has an appointment (e.g., purse, glove compartment).
  • Show the list at each doctor’s appointment.
  • Make any changes immediately following a trip to the doctor, hospital, and/or pharmacy.
  • Print a new list, and put it back in its usual spot.

Medications can be dangerous if not properly managed. But keeping an updated medication list can keep  your parent safe.