Medication Organization

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As Sandwich Generation caregivers we are often required to dispense medications. Whether it’s to sick grandkids, elderly relatives, special needs patients of any age, or a combination of these patients, it can be a bit confusing at times, remembering who gets what when. I’ve found a few little memory tricks and tips to help me that I’d like to share with you.

1. Excel is your friend. For that matter, so is any type of spreadsheet or graph paper including a simple piece of paper with lines drawn.

For a simple surgery coming up, I had to help my mom take two different medications at two different times four times a day. That’s a total of eight times a day! Making sure we remembered them, while keeping up with other responsibilities at home and away, not to mention interruptions, required some extra effort. I started by making a simple check-off sheet in Excel. (If you’d like a copy of it, just email me 🙂 ). I printed it out and every time we did the medication, I wrote down the time for each medicine and checked it off. That helped me make sure we remembered each dose at the right time.

2. Alarm clocks are wonderful things. Even better is an alarm clock in your cell phone as you probably have it with you at all times.

I set up four different alarms for each day. I am limited to six and I knew I could do two per alarm going off, so that kept it simple. It never fails to astonish me how fast time can go when you are doing something like that. Without the alarms reminding me, it would have been easy to miss a dose! Of course, even the best of alarms can have technical difficulties. If you accidentally turn your phone off without realizing it, for example. That leads me to…

3. Keep everything out where you will see it right in front of your face – though do be careful if there are young ones around.

I’m the type of person who operates under the system, “out of sight, out of mind.” It has its advantages, but not when it comes to remembering to take medication. I put the notebook and boxes for it all right on the kitchen counter where it would actually be in our way. It was a bit irritating, but helped make it less likely we would forget them, just in case the alarm clock didn’t work.

4. Outlook’s Calendar makes a great backup! I set daily reminders in my Outlook calendar. Since it is synced to my cell phone, those reminders also popped up on my cell phone screen periodically.

This is a more subtle method whereas the others are pretty much “hit myself over the head” methods, which works best for me. I get interrupted a lot (phone calls, grandchild hugs, Twitter 🙂 ), and it’s easy to lose my train of thought. This method doesn’t usually help to remind me at a specific time since I don’t have it sound activated, but does remind me each day. I have these reminders set daily to remind myself about my grandkids’ medications. Since I only have to dispense them occasionally, this is especially important as a reminder.

Well, there you have it. My four main ways to remember what medications to give when. How about you?  I’d love it if you’d share your helps and hints in the comments section below or via email to SandwichINK @ (typed normally). And now, you must excuse me. My alarm just went off. Time for more meds.

The Wright Stuff
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  1. Great post. I do the cell phone alarm and an iCal reminder for my mid-afternoon antidepressant…otherwise I’d miss it altogether. For the moment, Mom is still managing her own meds, but I’ll file your ideas in the back of my brain. Thanks!

    Sandwiched’s last blog post..WFMW: Uncrustables, Be Gone!

    • Kayla Perri
    • January 17, 2009

    I have a 15 year old son that takes medication. I have him use the Wellness Travel Pak which looks (cool) it looks like a travel pak (camoflage) and it’s easy for me to check on because of the clear ziplock bags inside.
    It will be great for anyone taking care of someone who needs medication. I like it much better than a pill box~ you should take a look…

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