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Tips to Avoid Medication Mismanagement (Canada)

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By: Lakelyn Hogan, MA, MBA, Gerontologist and Caregiver Advocate, Home Instead

Medication can do so much good for a person, but if not managed properly, it could cause serious harm. A study found that 57% of surveyed older adults are taking four or more prescription medications. The survey also found that 20% of older adults have some difficulty managing their medications and 17% feel overwhelmed, at least occasionally, by the medications they are taking.

It is important for older adults and family caregivers to realize the potential hazards of medication mismanagement and learn tips to avoid them.

Tips that can Help Older Adults Avoid Medication Mistakes

  • Get organized. Look into a pill organization system like a pill box or a medication service like Pocket Pills. It can also be helpful to use a medication tracker, especially when taking medications that are time sensitive.
  • Keep an updated list. Make sure a list of the older adult’s medication is kept in an accessible location. Ensure that list is communicated to all healthcare providers involved in the aging adult’s care and ask the healthcare provider or pharmacist to reconcile meds regularly to avoid negative drug interactions.
  • Communicate with the healthcare provider. Ask questions and fully understand why the older adult is taking the medication. Call the doctor about any symptoms that start after a new medication. Also, keep regularly scheduled appointments with the healthcare provider and make one provider the “gatekeeper” to manage medications.
  • Do not ignore issues. Discuss any problems an older adult has in taking medications. If paying for medications is an issue, ask the provider or pharmacist about options. Also, talk to the healthcare provider if you suspect an underlying issue regarding medication management such as depression.
  • Dispose properly. It is important that once a medication is no longer needed or expires, it is disposed of properly. You can also drop them at your local pharmacy anytime.
  • Consider professional assistance. A professional caregiver can help with various aspects of proper medication management such as accompanying a senior to medical appointments, picking up medications from the pharmacy, and reminding the older adult to take the medications.

It is important that family caregivers talk to their aging loved one about their medications and the above tips. For conversation starters that can help, visit

To learn more about medication mismanagement, you can watch this webinar and even earn a free Continuing Education (CE) credit*. You can also get more caregiving tips at For more about home care services and to find a local home care provider visit

*CE credits are only available for 60 days following the live webinar event.

Last revised: February 10, 2020

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