Managing medication at home
It’s important for everyone who takes a medication to understand its purpose and proper usage. For a person living with dementia, additional measures may be needed to ensure they take their medications as directed.
The 5 Moments for Medication Safety infographic below has been developed by the World Health Organisation and highlights key moments where action by the patient or carer can reduce the risk of harm associated with the use of their medication.
Here are a few useful tips from Dementia Carers Count practitioner and Queen’s Nurse, Lorraine Haining:
Whoever prescribes the medication should explain what it is for, and also if there are any risks when taking alongside other medications. Potential side effects should also be discussed. Often side effects will reduce in intensity, and if a person is informed and knows to expect them, the person or carer will be more likely to continue with the medication.
It’s important to have a clear understanding of when the medication should be taken. It may say on the container, but a pharmacist should always be able to tell you.
Doses of medication can fluctuate, so it’s also important to have a clear understanding of the correct dosage at all times.
How medication is absorbed can affect its effectiveness. For example, some forms of medication may need to be taken during a period of time that no food has been consumed. If a dose of medication is missed, it’s important to seek advice about the next steps.
Don’t be afraid to ask why an additional medication is required. It’s important for the reason to be explained to the person or carer, which will present an opportunity to discuss any other medications that are being taken, and if they will be affected.
Have a medication review every 6 months. Always ask how long the course of medication should last. Over time, the process of how our bodies absorb medication changes, and this can result in changes to prescriptions.
It’s important to finish a course of medication, or at least request a review, before stopping. If you have been taking medication for a long period of time, there might be some withdrawal symptoms.
In this video, Lorraine Haining and Dementia Carers Count’s Senior Practitioner, Kate Legg, take us through key tips for managing medication at home in more detail.