How a Home Health Nurse Can Help You Manage Your Medications

As people age, they often develop chronic health conditions that require medication. Each medication can help increase quality of life, but taking several medicines has challenges and even risks:

  • People often have multiple prescription drugs from multiple doctors/prescribers, which may cause unintended interactions.
  • Many seniors also use over-the-counter supplements in addition to their prescriptions.
  • Keeping track of all these medications is a confusing task for many older adults, especially if they suffer with memory and/or vision problems.
  • Accidentally missing or doubling a dose happens often.
  • Sometimes a drug (for example, a heartburn medication) is no longer needed, but the prescription just keeps getting refilled.

In any of these scenarios, you have an increased risk of drug interactions and side effects. These are major health hazards that cause many trips to the emergency room and hospitalizations every year.

One of the services provided by Windward Home Health is medication management. We assess each medication’s appropriateness, effectiveness, safety, cost and compliance. The goal is to improve the client’s health outcomes. Our RN Case Managers work with the patient, physician, caregiver(s), pharmacists, nurses, and other healthcare providers to accomplish this goal.

Why would we need help managing medications?

Many families try to help their loved one, but end up deciding that managing medicines without professional help isn’t safe or sustainable:

  • Perhaps Mom has dementia and struggles to remember her medications.
  • Maybe your dad lives miles away, and you can’t be there every day to remind him to take his meds.
  • Maybe one day you check Mom’s medicine cabinet and you discover chaos. Half-empty bottles of outdated drugs, unopened prescriptions still in the pharmacy bags, miscellaneous over-the-counter remedies/supplements, and unidentified loose pills.
  • Or perhaps you, as the primary caregiver for your mom or dad, aren’t able to give your parent the full care they deserve because you’re already juggling attending to your own household, children, and work.

What can an RN Case Manager do to help?

Our Windward Home Health RN Case Managers can sort it all out and ensure medication safety and compliance by:

  • Helping reconcile medications between healthcare providers.
  • Discussing alternative medication delivery methods – pharmacy-packaged meds or medication pill boxes or electronic dispensers filled by a nurse or family member.
  • Identifying ways to keep medication costs affordable.
  • Suggesting options to maintain compliance. If a regimen is too complicated, other options usually exist.
  • Creating a plan for tracking medication intake, monitoring results, and watching for side effects.
  • Making regular visits to check for changes in specific conditions as well as overall health.
  • Working closely with prescribing physicians to communicate important information such as health and functional status, known allergies, and other medications and supplements being taken.
  • Ensuring that multiple healthcare providers are communicating and working with the same information.

Medication management is part of the care plan

A home health patient’s care plan includes physicians’ orders and any special instructions for care. It also includes the medication management plan, along with tasks for the in-home caregiver such as providing medication reminders or taking blood pressure.

Medication management is an ongoing process. The RN Case Manager will continue to visit and communicate with the client, family, or caregiver on an ongoing basis to assess the situation, monitor results, and recommend changes as needed. We continually tweak and adapt the plan, especially as the client’s physical or mental condition evolves over time.

Please contact us if you’d like to learn more about medication management and our in-home services.