Why is managing your own or a loved one’s medications important? Because to get the maximum benefit, you need to know so much more than just when to take them. Medication management is one of the best ways to help your loved one maintain their health and slow the decline. 

August 10, 2022

So often you hear about the adverse reactions, the terrible side effects, and the meds not working, but what about the successes?  Actually, getting better and feeling better. What is your part and responsibility in that area? Have you ever thought that you had a part in that? You do. If there are multiple family caregivers that will be administering meds, you do need a chart to keep track of meds and when given. 

Medications Won’t Fix Everything

Medications are not going to fix everything; you will have to do your part. Medications have risks. Medications may have side effects, cause adverse reactions or not work at all for you. Only take what you need to take.

What if we treated our health like a project we wanted to do? With ideas, goals, and successes. Those things along with medications would help you to have the best quality of life possible.

Questions to ask about medications

    • Why has this medication been prescribed?

    • How does this medication work in the body?

    • What are the most common side effects?

    • Are there any serious or rare side effects that I should be aware of?

    • Will this medicine interact with others that I am taking now?

    • When will this medication begin to work?

    • What should I do if I miss a dose? What if I  accidentally take more than prescribed?

    • Should I take this medication with food or water?

    • Are there other drugs, vitamins or supplements that I should avoid while taking this medicine?

    • Are there activities that I should avoid while taking this medication?

    • Are there any foods that interact with this medication?

    • Is it safe to drink alcohol while on this medication?

    • How long will I  have to take this medicine?

    • Do you have written information about this medicine that I can take home with me?

Tools you can use to manage and organize your medications

    • Weekly pill box – best for taking your medications all at once

    • AM/PM Weekly pill box – best for those that have morning meds and evening meds

    • Four times a day weekly pill box – best for those that have to take meds multiple times per day

    • Automatic pill dispenser – has a clock timer and can be set to dispense only at certain times & it is locked

    • Reminder Apps – best if you keep your phone with you all the time and need a reminder

    • Pre-packaged meds from your pharmacy – can be customed packaged

    • Pre-packaged meds from online pharmacy – see each site for rules/regulations

Keep a Current Medications List

Medication List – Keep it current, update it after every change in medication

Get an Index card, you can use paper, but you will be mad when it gets wet and rips or tears.

This is the minimum information that you need,  Drug name and strength, How you take it? (times per day), Why you are taking it?, Prescriber name

Fold it up and keep it in your wallet.

Medication Managment Needs

Take your medications as prescribed. If you are having problems, contact your prescriber. Maybe your dose has not had time to work. Maybe you are underdosed? Maybe, you are overdosed? Talk with your doctor. Start Low and Go Slow is a good motto when beginning new medications. It may have to be increased to get to the maximum dose and maximum benefit. Take medications correctly. If you are using multiple mouth inhalers, you need to learn the proper order and the proper timing of each inhaler. 

Why are you taking this?

Know if you are taking a medication “off-label.” Off-label means that a medication has been prescribed for a use other than its intended use. For example, Seroquel® (quetiapine) or Risperdal® (risperidone). These two medications are intended to be used as antipsychotics. Most of the time they are used for behavioral problems or sleep.

Our bodies change

Changes in our bodies as we age also contribute to how we metabolize and excrete medications.. As we get older, what we took in our 40’s may be too much for us in our 50’s+.

**Note**  Any symptom in someone 60+ years and older should be considered a medication side effect until proven otherwise. **Note**

Determine your goals for treatment. Your personal goals. Your medication goals. What if we all treated our health like a work project? One we actually wanted to do. We could use the SMART goals.

Goal – A statement that describes in broad terms what you will learn from a particular treatment. It is a behavioral outcome statement.

Use SMART Goals

Specific – Be crystal clear on your goal. Not, I want to lose 20 pounds over the next year. I will lose 0.4 of a pound each week by decreasing my food intake and increasing my exercise output to equal 1,400 calories. Not, I want to feel better. Be specific, what will you do for yourself to feel better?

Measurable – Track the small tasks within each goal, especially for long-term goals. For example, track the calories you consume and track the calories that you burn in a normal week. You have set your goal to lose 20 pounds in 1 year. Whatever your normal week numbers are, you can decide to decrease your calorie intake by 200 calories per day or you can burn 200 calories per day in exercise or a combination of both. You cannot outwork a bad diet.

Attainable – Set goals that are challenging, even difficult at times, but within your reach.

Relevant – Decide what is most important to you in your life and work. What qualities or changes do you most desire? It has to be something that you want to do. You may not want to do the “tasks,” but you really want the result so you will do the tasks. If you say to yourself, “ I should” or “I need”  or “ So and So wants me to” then just stop. You will not be successful. When you can get to, “I want” or “I would like to” statements then you can be successful.

Timed – Every goal has to have a timeline to keep you on track and progressing toward success.

A goal without the parameters of the SMART goals is just wishing.  Your willpower will give out, and all you will have is your discipline.

Use this template to practice your goal setting.


Initial Goal Write your goal here.
S Specific Your goal should be well defined, detailed and clear.
M Measurable Is your goal measurable? You should be able to tell when you reach your goal.
A Achievable Can you reach the goal, taking into account your available time, skills, and financial status?
R Realistic Is your goal realistically achievable within the given time frame and with the available resources?
T Timely Set a start and finish date for your goal.
  Start Date: ___________________Finish Date_____________________  
SMART Goal Revise your goal based on the answers to the questions above.

Action Plan

What steps do you need to take to get you to your goal?

Action Items Expected Completion Date Actual Completion Date

Potential Obstacles and Solutions

Potential Obstacles Potential Solutions