DEAR HARRIETTE: My mother has been living in an independent community for elders for a couple of years now. Recently I have noticed that my mother gets her medications mixed up.
We went on a trip together, and she said she had organized all of her medication, but it turned out not to be true at all. She has serious medical issues that require her to take medication at specific times. While she is not yet ready for assisted living, which is very expensive, she does seem to need help taking her medicine on time. What can I do to help her? I cannot come to be with her twice a day, but somebody needs to. -- Mother Needs Help
DEAR MOTHER NEEDS HELP: One of the most challenging and common concerns for elders as they age is medication management. Often, they have multiple pills to take at varying times of the day. This would be hard for a younger person to keep track of; as people get older, memory often is not as sharp as it once was, even if the person is not suffering from dementia. Organizing medication can be confusing.
There are a number of options that can support your mother. You can look into getting her a medical organization system that features alarms for each time of day. Some of them will open a compartment only when the medication is to be taken. There is a new service called pillpack.com that will fill prescriptions and organize pills into clearly marked plastic bags that delineate what to take and when.
Depending on how well your mother manages with these types of support, you may also need to hire someone to come in and administer meds at various times in the day. You can talk to her independent living facility to see if it has recommendations on nurses or others who may be able to support your mother.