Many of us, when unable to answer simple questions about the medications we take, promise to make a list before our next appointment. We know it’s important, but we never seem to get around to doing so. Besides, we are quite sure our prescription history is already a part of our medical history file.
However, your doctor may not know about the prescriptions you have received from other clinicians, or if you take dietary supplements such as vitamins or alternative medicine herbals such as echinacea. Conversely, an emergency room doctor or another clinician may not easily access your medical records.
Keeping a current record of all the medications your loved one takes is especially important when dementia is part of the equation. People who have dementia may see physicians that, in addition to his or her family doctor, include a geriatrician, a neurologist, or a psychiatrist. It’s also quite likely the person who has dementia will require evaluation and treatment for conditions unrelated to his or her dementia diagnosis. In addition, the progression of dementia, memory loss, and other disabilities, makes it imperative that a family member or other caregiver have access to the medication list.
As a first step, make a complete list of the medications, supplements, and any herbals your loved one may use. The list, in the form of a table, should include the following information: the name of the medication, the daily dosage, the prescription number, the pharmacy contact information, the prescribing clinician’s name, and contact information, as well as the location of the medication in your loved one's place of residence. You might also want to jot down a few words about any side effects, you or other people may have noticed.
As a second step, and on a need-to-know basis, a hard copy of the compiled information should be available to other family members as well as to other caregivers responsible for your loved one’s care. Place another paper copy in a folder or a three-ring binder and leave it by the telephone. The folder, in addition to the medication list, should also contain other important names and numbers such as the contact information for your loved one’s doctors, as well as for the local hospital, ambulance service, and emergency room.
Create a file on your computer hard drive that contains the all information you need to oversee your loved one’s care. Doing so will make it easy to update your loved one’s medical records.
Do keep in mind that only certain people should have access to your loved one’s Medicare, health insurance, and credit card information as well as other types of confidential information. Doing so will help to prevent financial abuse and identity theft.
And while you are at it – this is a good time to finally get around to tabulating your medications and other types of personally important information!
Janet Yagoda Shagam, Ph.D., is a freelance medical and science writer and the author of “An Unintended Journey: A Caregiver's Guide to Dementia.” Available through Amazon.
The opinions expressed by contributing authors are not necessarily the opinions of the Dementia Society, Inc. We do not endorse nor guarantee products, comments, suggestions, links, or other forms of the content contained within blog posts- that have been provided to us with permission, or otherwise. Dementia Society does not provide medical advice, please consult your doctor. www.DementiaSociety.org