Prescription Medications, The Elderly and Pill Boxes – What Do I Do When They Don’t Mix?

The elderly and prescription medications go hand in hand.  As our bodies age many elderly find the number of their prescription medications rise in direct proportion.  Many of the prescriptions they take are life threatening if they are taken incorrectly, take to many, or not enough.  A crucial time in our elderly lives is when they have trouble filling their own pill boxes.

In the article on this site entitled; Danger! Prescription Medications and Our Elderly, we discussed how it is vital to our elderly that we stay on top of what is being prescribed and how they interact with other drugs. The New York Times article titled; Wide Medication Misuse Is Found Among Elderly reported the in many ways prescription medications weren’t being taken correctly including “… misuse of drugs by elderly patients themselves.”  We can be vigilant on the what medications their doctors are giving them and what combinations they are taking their pills,  but if they have gotten to a point where they are having trouble filling their pill boxes every week, we have a dangerous situation brewing.

How do we know if they are taking the medications as directed?  Being informed as to what drugs they are taking and how they should be taken is vital.  A simple check of their pill box will show whether they are taking all their pills every day, but if they can’t seem to fill them correctly, you may notice changes in their behavior.  Symptoms such as more confusion, dehydration, retaining too much fluid, unsteady on their feet, etc.  Most of all, what is you gut instinct telling you?

If you discover your senior citizen isn’t taking their medication because they aren’t able to fill their pill boxes correctly anymore, but they can still function in their independent environment, what can you do?  Sometimes, if we live in another city, or have a time consuming career, or if our elderly loved one won’t take the help from us it can feel very frustrating and down right scary.

Where can you go to find help and information?  Here are 2 resources I found very helpful:

In the case of my Dad, he was a veteran of World War II.  My parents retirement income was limited and it was mostly Social Security.  They weren’t able to pay for expensive health care in their home.  Therefore, I found the Veterans Administration as an excellent resource.  They were very willing to help with education and skilled in home care.  Their philosophy was to keep the veteran in their home as long as it is safe for the elderly veteran.

My Dad was going to them for his health care and I would accompany him.  When I expressed my concerns on this issue, they immediately set up an in home social worker who came to the home and asset his situation.  She was a great help.  She filled out the paperwork to get the services started. She became a friend and ally.  She set up a health care professional to come out and fill my father’s pill case and some nursing care.  At the same time, my Dad was have issues with not being able to get out of the bath tub after his bath.  She set up an in home care professional to come out and give my Dad baths a few times a week.  A good online resource is the Federal Benefits for Veterans and Dependents Book.

When my Mom, who wasn’t a veteran, began to have issues with her medications, I turned to her doctor.  Her doctor was a internal medicine doctor and treated many geriatrics.  She was familiar with medicare and the services they provided.  The doctor put in a “referral” for an aging advocate service professional to come to the home.  She performed a similar service as the VA Social Worker and her fee was paid by Medicare.

As we watch our loved ones age, or we are the one who is getting to those “golden years” it is important to stay informed and know our options.  I applaud you for doing your research and hitting it head on with information at hand.  It isn’t easy to traverse the field of elder care, but knowing where to go for the info is half the battle.

Looking for more information like this?  Click here!

Many of you who are reading this article are health care professionals or are experienced informal caregivers.  It benefits all of us if you leave a comment about what works for you.  If you have found any other resources that would be a help to us, let us know.  Many thanks in advance!



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5 Responses to “Prescription Medications, The Elderly and Pill Boxes – What Do I Do When They Don’t Mix?”

  1. lee says:

    We got rid of our old pill box and got a Med-Q smart pill box. It is programmable and when it’s time for her to take her pills, it flashes in the box to take. The alarm keeps getting louder and louder until she takes her pills check out the video @

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