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Medication Management vs Medication Reminders

elderly hand holding various pills

Written by:

Jeffrey Grossman


October 28, 2019

One of the primary services people search for in relation to home care is senior medication management. The difference between medication management and medication reminders is significant, but often not understood.


Home Medication Monitoring

Older adults can develop several chronic conditions as they age, which requires a handful of medications from different prescribers. 1 out of 4 older adults ages 65 to 69 are taking five prescription drugs to treat chronic illnesses. An older adult’s medication schedule gets complicated as more pills are prescribed. As a result, a dedicated caregiver may be needed to help them stay on track.

Some studies have even shown that the complexity of an older adult’s prescription regimen is directly related to medication nonadherence. Seniors may become frustrated and overwhelmed with all of their medications and cease to take them as directed. Drug interactions, forgetfulness, double doses, and side effects are all concerns that need to be monitored as your loved one’s prescription regime expands. 


Medication Management

In home medication management provides seniors with professional help from the comfort of their own homes. Medication management is a service provided by a Registered Nurse (RN) who has a four-year degree in the healthcare field. RNs are certified to perform medical services, such as suture cleaning and injections, as well as attend doctor(s) appointments or procedures.

RNs can also administer, reconcile, and manage a senior’s medication regime due to their experience and extensive education credentials. Medication management is incredibly helpful for those taking multiple prescription drugs at a time. However, medication reminders are a different level of care and empower seniors to take their own medications with oversight.


Medication Reminders

Families typically need someone to support their loved one’s medication adherence, not to physically administer the pills. Medication reminders are a nonmedical service provided by a Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA). CNAs do not administer medications, pick up prescriptions, or speak with a doctor or pharmacist about a senior’s medicine or regime—but they do ensure medication safety and regularity.

CNA caregivers provide companionship services such as housework, transportation, meal preparation, and medication reminders. The fading memories of Dementia and Alzheimer’s patients tend to require a dedicated caregiver to gently, but insistently remind them to take their pills. One of our experienced team members, Nora, explains:

“Medication reminders are more difficult than one might think. There are lots of variables at play. For example, Dementia clients sometimes believe they have already taken their medication and can become frustrated by your reminder. You just have to keep your head straight and redirect – making sure to come back and give the pills a few minutes later.”


5 Medication Reminder Tips

The “art of medication reminders” is no small task to accomplish and can require considerable patience, compassion, and wit. We crowd-sourced some medication reminding tips from the deep experience of our care team to hopefully make life a little easier for other caregivers!

1) Just be casual about it. “Don’t make it more of an event than it needs to be. Nobody enjoys taking pills. At best, they tolerate it; at worst, they dread it. Just get it done matter-of-factly.”

2) Tried and true. “Lead with the orange juice and follow with the pills on a napkin!”

3) For them, not you. “Sometimes if a client is resistant, I’ll remind them that their son or daughter— someone they don’t want to disappoint—asked me to make sure they got these pills. That way, they are taking their medication ‘for them’ not me.”

4) Let’s talk about it. “Usually, clients are pretty comfortable taking their meds; but sometimes they get mad!! One of my clients liked to spit out her pills when I wasn’t looking. I got in the habit of sitting down and starting a little conversation before handing her the medication. Now when I finally give her the pills, she wasn’t just waiting for me to walk away!”

5) Floats for the win. “When in doubt, nobody says no to a root beer float (more root beer than float) with a straw! Always gets the job done!”


Commonwise Home Care Can Help

Home care is multifaceted and takes a very skilled individual to care compassionately. At Commonwise Home Care, we provide personalized senior care plans to support the daily needs of older adults. Whether your loved one needs care for a few hours a day or all-day assistance, our caregivers are here to serve. 

As a full-service home care agency, our CNA caregivers and RNs work together to provide both medication reminders and medication management services. Let our home health care team help you and your loved one with compassionate, personal care. Learn more about how we care differently at Commonwise Home Care by calling 434.202.8565.

Disclaimer: Please check with your physician before making any changes to your diet, exercise, or medication routine.