Caregiving at Home


Thinking About Home Care




Caring For Yourself


Setting Up Your Home, Safety and Body Mechanics


Preventing Infection in the Home


Normal and Abnormal Signs of Aging


Meeting Special Needs and Conditions


Death, Dying and Hospice Care


Providing Personal Care


Transfers and Ambulation


Basic Healthcare Skills


Healthy Eating and Hydration


Emergency Care



Chapter 14 – Medications

Many older adults take multiple prescription medications to manage several long-term illnesses at the same time, and they may take over-the-counter medications as well. Managing all of these can be intimidating and frustrating. Chapter 14 of Caregiving at Home offers tools and guidelines for keeping track of medication.

Medications behave differently in the bodies of older adults. Chapter 14 explains some of these differences, the problems they can cause, and how to reduce their impact to make medications safer for your loved one. Common forms of medication, including pills, transdermal patches, and inhalers, are described, along with how they are typically used.

This chapter provides guidelines for reading and interpreting both prescription and over-the-counter drug labels, including the differences between the two. The chapter also lists abbreviations for the number of times per day that medications should be taken. There are also guidelines for safely storing medications. Chapter 14 tells you how to create a complete list of all of the medications your loved one is taking and why this is so important. It gives guidelines for assisting with medications, including making a medication schedule and the safe preparation of medications.

No medication is completely safe for everyone. This chapter alerts you to some of the risks of taking medication, including side effects, allergies, or drug interactions. It describes some common side effects of medications and how your pharmacy can help you reduce the possibility of drug interactions. This chapter also describes some common problems with medications, including missed doses, polypharmacy, and noncompliance, and what to do if these things occur.

Many older adults self-medicate in addition to taking prescription drugs. This chapter describes some of the over-the-counter medications that are commonly used, including antacids and laxatives.

As cost can sometimes be an issue, there are suggestions for saving money on prescription medications. The chapter also gives guidelines for what questions to ask the physician whenever a new medication is prescribed. It tells you what information should be obtained about all drugs your loved one is taking, such as the brand name and generic name of the drug and whether any foods, cigarettes, or alcohol should be avoided while taking it.

Managing your loved one’s medications can be challenging. Caregiving at Home can help you stay organized and informed and make this daunting task a little easier.