Caregiver Guide: Tips for Giving Medicine

Giving medicine to the person in your care can be challenging—especially when there are different types of medicines and dosing schedules to follow. Here are some tips to help make things easier.

  • Make it routine. Giving medicine as part of daily routines, such as brushing teeth or getting ready for bed, can make it easier for you and the person in your care to remember. If it can be taken with food, consider giving medicine with meals.
  • Keep a medicine calendar. Write down when medications are to be taken and make a note every time a dose is given. You'll be able to see at a glance what you've already done or what you need to do.
  • Use reminders. Put a note on the medicine cabinet, refrigerator, or even the front door to help you remember what medicines are needed and when. This is especially helpful when new medicines are prescribed, and during unusually busy times for you and/or the person in your care.
  • Get organized. Put colored tabs or stickers on each medicine bottle to help you keep medicine organized. For example, you can place blue tabs on bottles that contain medicine to be taken in the morning, red tabs on bottles that contain medicine to be taken in the afternoon, and yellow tabs on bottles that contain medicine to be taken at night. If medications are to be taken less frequently, it may help to set a reminder on your cell phone or computer.
  • Be on the lookout for any changes. You know it’s important to give medicine only as directed and for the amount of time prescribed by the health care provider. If symptoms worsen, or if the medicine does not seem to be helping the person in your care, contact the health care provider. Do not change doses or stop giving medicine without checking first with the health care provider.
  • Keep medicines separate. Never mix different medicines in the same container. This may appear to make things easier to manage, but it can cause confusion if different pills get mixed up. Leave labels on the containers because they usually contain directions for use and other important information.
  • Give medicine in a well-lit area. This way you'll be able to read the label and ensure you’re giving the correct dose.
  • Store medicine properly. The health care provider or pharmacist will be able to give you specifics about how to store medicine for the person in your care. In general, it’s not a good idea to keep medicine in or near damp places, such as the bathroom or near the kitchen sink. (Moisture can affect the strength of the medicine.) Heat, direct light, and freezing temperatures are other things to avoid. Also, do not leave medicine in your car for long periods of time because extreme temperature changes could damage it.
  • Check expiration dates. Your pharmacist can help guide you as to the best way to dispose of expired medicine.
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