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The More, the Merrier: Prescription Management for Families

By Jonathan Thompson January 28, 2016 Posted in: Family Health , Article

There are a ton of factors to consider when it comes to caring for your family. You have to think about the obvious things, of course: food, shelter, and clothing. But situations can quickly become considerably more complex, especially when health care is involved. For one thing, there's the issue of household prescription management.

Even if just one family member is on prescriptions, it can be difficult to keep everything straight. You may have to coordinate with different doctors, or certain medications may be restricted when it comes to how often they can be filled. Any number of other roadblocks may present themselves. So what can you do to keep everything organized?

Basic Strategies

There are a few simple techniques you can put into place that may help ease the stress of prescription management. Many of these methods have been tested and are in use at health care facilities:

  • Separate everything. If several members of your family are on multiple prescription medications, avoid keeping them all together in a jumble of bottles. Instead, assign each person a clearly labeled basket or bin that holds only their medications.
  • Keep a chart. The National Institutes of Health recommends keeping a clear, easy-to-read instruction chart. It should detail the medication's dose, what time it should be taken, and whether it's taken with food. If you're managing several people's medications, then clearly label each chart and store it with that individual's basket or bin. You might even consider color-coding or using some other easy-to-recognize marking method.
  • Make sure you understand. Ask both the doctor and the pharmacist plenty of questions so you completely understand what the medication is, what it does, and how to take it. If you're overseeing the medications of a family member who cannot do this on their own, this is an especially important step.
  • Don't change containers. With the exception of a multiday pill dispenser, you should keep the medication in its original bottle. This will make it easy to identify different medications, who they belong to, and other details that help avoid confusion.

Picking Your Pharmacy

While the above-mentioned strategies are extremely useful for managing things in your own home, you'll also have to work closely with your pharmacist. Some pharmacies, for example, may have rules that limit when you're able to get certain medications or what information they need from the doctor that might affect your prescriptions' availability. For this reason, it's key that you understand their policies and are able to work well with them.

If you or a family member regularly needs refills, frequent trips to the pharmacy will take up a healthy portion of your time and energy. Is it possible that a pharmacy in your area can deliver the medications when they become available?

It's also worth noting a new model that may help you manage prescriptions: the online pharmacy. These businesses, such as PillPack, function identically to the traditional pharmacy when it comes to communicating with your doctor and filling prescriptions -- except the pills are simply shipped to your door. Pricing will, of course, depend on the individual business, but many simply require the same co-pay that you would pay at a pharmacy.

Whether you decide to work with a traditional or online pharmacy, it's important that you make sure it is a reputable company, accredited through the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy.

With a little organization and some time invested in getting familiar with your pharmacy of choice, you'll be well on your way to sound prescription management, even if you're juggling the needs of many family members.

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