• Medication Tips for Caregivers of Aging Parents


    Caregiver Daughter with Aging MotherWith advances in healthcare people are living longer and many of them are looking to their children to help with their care. Helping aging parents is a challenge often compounded by distance, but there are ways to make it easier.

    • Don’t wait to be asked. Ask your parents if they need help.
    • While your parents are taking their medications or as they count out the next dose, ask them to show you and tell you the purpose of each medication.
    • Take your parents to their doctors’ appointments as often as you can, take notes, and note follow-up items on your calendar so you remember to check back with them.
    • If they don’t have one already, help your parents complete a record of their medicines. You and your parents should each have your own copy.
    • Keep an eye out for cognitive impairment, depression, malnutrition, and obesity. These problems can all be side effects of medication.
    • Keep a file for each parent where you save notes and follow-up items, including complaints that could relate to interactions or side effects.
    • Note on your calendar or smartphone to follow up with your parents about any side effects they had reported the last time you saw each other.
    • Remember to ask follow-up questions during doctor’s visits. For example, “Have you felt better since you switched to that new medication? Any more headaches?” Remember, your parent may not give you a report until you ask.
    • Get to know their doctors and make sure they have your contact information.
    • Go over your questions with each other before the next doctor’s appointment.
    • Make sure you have you have permission to talk to the doctor about your family member’s care. Make sure the doctor’s office knows that you have the authority to discuss their health care.You may need to provide a Health Care Proxy Form.
    • Every time you go with your parent for a doctor’s visit, review the Know Your Meds Worksheet, understand the purpose for each medication, and eliminate any that are no longer necessary.
    • Evaluate your parent’s system for taking and keeping track of their medications.  Can you help them improve it?
    • If you’re picking up medication for your parent, check the label carefully to make sure it is correct. Read the insert and any other information provided about the medication and make sure it looks like the description on the insert.


    The National Alliance for Care Giving

    is a non-profit coalition of national organizations committed to improving the quality of life of families. 

    The Family Caregiver Alliance

     addresses the needs of families and friends providing long-term care at home.

    The National Family Caregivers Association

    empowers caregivers through education, building community, and advocacy.