Managing Medicines for a Person with Alzheimer’s
People with Alzheimer’s disease may take medicines to treat the disease itself, mood or behavior changes, and other medical conditions. Caregivers can ensure that medicines are taken safely and correctly. Here are some tips to help you manage medications for someone with Alzheimer’s disease.
Learn the Basics
Know each medicine (prescription and over-the-counter) the person with Alzheimer’s disease takes. Ask the doctor or pharmacist:
Managing medications is easier if you have a complete list of them. The list should show the name of the medicine, the doctor who prescribed it, how much the person with Alzheimer’s takes, and how often. Visit Tracking Your Medications: Worksheet for a template. Keep the list in a safe place at home, and make a copy to keep in your purse or wallet. Bring it with you when you visit the person’s doctor or pharmacist.
People with Alzheimer’s should be monitored when they start taking a new drug. Follow the doctor’s instructions and report any unusual symptoms right away. Also, let the doctor know before adding or changing any medications.
Use Medicines Safely
People with Alzheimer’s disease often need help taking their medicine. If the person lives alone, you may need to call and remind him or her or leave notes around the home. A pillbox allows you to put pills for each day in one place. Some pillboxes come with alarms that remind a person to take the medicine.
As Alzheimer’s gets worse, you will need to keep track of the person’s medicines. You also will need to make sure the person takes the medicines or give the medicines to him or her.
Some people with Alzheimer’s take medicines to treat behavior problems such as restlessness, anxiety, depression, trouble sleeping, and aggression. Experts agree that medicines to treat behavior problems should be used only after other strategies that don’t use medicine have been tried. Talk with the person’s doctor about which medicines are safest and most effective. With these types of medicines, it is important to:
It is recommended that people with Alzheimer’s should NOT take anticholinergic drugs. These drugs are used to treat many medical problems such as sleeping problems, stomach cramps, incontinence, asthma, motion sickness, and muscle spasms. Side effects, such as confusion, can be serious for a person with Alzheimer’s. These drugs should NOT be given to a person with Alzheimer’s disease. You might talk with the person’s doctor about other options. Examples of these drugs include:
Some people, especially those with late-stage Alzheimer’s, may have trouble swallowing pills. In this case, ask the pharmacist if the medicine can be crushed or taken in liquid form. Other ways to make sure medicines are taken safely:
Medicines to Treat Alzheimer’s Disease
There are five medicines available to treat Alzheimer’s disease. It’s important to understand that none of these medicines can cure or stop the disease. What they can do, for some people, is help slow down certain problems, such as memory loss. Slowing down memory loss can allow many people with Alzheimer’s disease to be more comfortable and independent for a longer time.
Saving Money on Medicines
Medicines can be costly. If they are too expensive for you, the doctor may be able to suggest less expensive alternatives. If the doctor does not know the cost, ask the pharmacist before filling the prescription. You can ask your doctor if there is a generic or other less expensive choice. Your doctor may also be able to refer you to a medical assistance program that can help with drug costs.
Ask your insurance company for a copy of your drug plan “formulary”—the list of all medicines covered by your insurance company—and bring it to your doctors’ appointments. Together, you and your doctor can evaluate the choice of medicines that will be most cost effective.
You might be thinking about buying your medicines online to save some money. It’s important to know which websites are safe and reliable. The Food and Drug Administration has safety tips for buying medicines and medical products online.
Some insurance drug plans offer special prices on medicines if you order directly from them rather than filling prescriptions at a pharmacy. Contact the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to learn about Medicare prescription drug plans that may help save you money, or review Medicare.gov Part D drug coverage. You can also contact your State Health Insurance Assistance Program. If you are a veteran, the Department of Veterans Affairs may also be able to help with your prescriptions.
Here are some websites that can provide additional assistance:
Medicines: Common Questions Answered
People who are over 65 years old tend to take more medicines than any other age group. Because older adults may have a number of diseases or health problems at the same time, it is common for them to take many different kinds of drugs. Here are some answers to common questions older adults may have about their medications.
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I’ve been taking the same prescription medicine for years. Even though I’m careful to take the same amount as always, the medicine is not working like it did in the past. What is happening?
As you age, normal changes happen in the body. You lose water and muscle tone. Also, your kidneys and liver may not pass the drugs as quickly through your system as when you were younger. This means that many medicines act differently in older people. Medicine may take longer to leave your system. Talk to your doctor if you think your medicine is not working as it should.
Why should I talk to my doctor about the herbal remedies, vitamins, and over-the-counter (OTC) medicines I take, along with my regular prescriptions?
It is very important to tell your doctor about all the medicines you take. Taking certain OTC medicines with your prescription drugs can be dangerous. For example, you should not take aspirin if you take warfarin (Coumadin®, Jantoven®) for heart problems.
Some OTC drugs, vitamins, and other remedies can lead to serious problems if used too often or with certain other drugs. Combining drugs without talking to your doctor could make you sick.
Why do I need to keep track of the active ingredients in my medications?
Learn which active ingredients are in the prescription and OTC medicines you take so that you don’t take more than one medicine that contains the same active ingredient(s). For example, if your cough syrup contains acetaminophen, don’t take it at the same time as a pain reliever that contains acetaminophen. Taking more than one medicine with the same active ingredient could result in getting too much of that ingredient, which could damage your liver or lead to other serious health problems.
My doctor used abbreviations in my prescription, but I’m not sure what they mean. How do I find out?
Doctors and pharmacists often use abbreviations or terms that may not be familiar. Here is an explanation of some of the most common abbreviations you will see on the labels of your prescription medications:
Common Abbreviations for Prescriptions
|b.i.d.||twice a day|
|t.i.d.||three times a day|
|q.i.d.||four times a day|
What are side effects?
Unwanted or unexpected symptoms or feelings, such as upset stomach, sleepiness, and dizziness, that happen when you take a medicine are called side effects. Some side effects happen just when you start taking a medicine. Some happen only once in a while. But other side effects may make you want to stop taking the medicine. Tell your doctor if this happens. He or she may be able to prescribe a different medicine or help you deal with side effects in other ways.
I’m getting sick to my stomach a lot since I started my new pills. Some days I feel so sick I think about not taking the medicine. What should I do?
Talk to your doctor about any side effects before you stop taking any medicines. Your doctor may have tips that can help, such as eating a light snack with your pills. You may want to talk to your doctor about switching to a new medicine.
What does it mean to take medicines on an empty stomach?
Taking medicines on an empty stomach means that you should take your pills 2 hours before you eat or 2 hours after you eat.
In both cases, your stomach will be empty enough for the pills to work.
I’m feeling better. Is it okay to stop taking my medicine?
No, even if you are feeling better, you should not stop taking your prescription drug unless your doctor says it is okay.
Here is a quick review on how to properly wear a mask. Make sure it:
To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, a mask should be worn in all public places and when social distancing isn’t possible. Routine and frequent washing of your masks is recommended. While most of us are trying to stay home more and avoiding public places, sometimes that isn’t possible. If you find yourself wearing your mask more than a few hours total each day, it should be washed before reuse.
How to wash your cloth mask
If your mask is machine-washable, you can include it with your laundry using regular detergent and the warmest appropriate water temperature for the load. In the dryer, use the highest heat setting possible and don’t take it out until it’s completely dry.
If your mask can’t go in the washer or a machine washer isn’t available, you can sanitize it by hand with a bleach solution. First though, make sure the bleach you have is intended for disinfection. Some bleaches are made for colored clothing and might not disinfect properly. After confirming you have the correct bleach, follow these steps:
Other reminders to keep you and your mask hygienic:
Remember to do your part by wearing a mask to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and continue to practice social distancing and frequent handwashing. These three simple steps are still the best defense we have to reduce transmission. And that’s always in fashion!
CINTAA Elder care shares useful information regarding healthcare on weekly basis. The post is only for information purpose only. Please check with your health care professional before using this information. To keep yourself updated with many other health tips, stay with us. We provide certified caregivers for seniors at home. If you need any help regarding eldercare, please feel free to call us today at 561-963-1915.