For caregivers: 6 medication safety tips

As a caregiver, you have a lot of responsibilities—one of which may be helping your loved one manage medications. This can be a complex task, particularly if he or she takes multiple meds.

Here are six ways to help you keep things safe and simple:

1. Make a list of every medication your loved one takes. This includes prescription and non-prescription drugs, as well as nutritional supplements and vitamins. Give a copy to each health care provider that your loved one sees. And keep one with you in case of an emergency.

2. Ask a doctor or pharmacist to review that list at least once a year and look for possible drug interactions.

3. Be sure you know what each medication is for and how each one should be given. You might want to use a pill box organizer to help keep everything straight.

4. If a medication has to be injected or requires special preparation at home, be sure you learn the proper technique. Work with your loved one’s doctor or nurse until you’re comfortable doing it yourself.

5. Store medications together, if possible. That way, they’ll be easy to find in an emergency. Look for a cool, dry place out of reach of children. Medications that need to be chilled should have their own spot in the refrigerator.

6. Never share your loved one’s medicine with others. Properly discard any leftover or expired medicines. Ask a pharmacist for instructions if you don’t know how to do this.

Sources: Family Caregiver Alliance; U.S. Food and Drug Administration

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