National Clean Out Your Medicine Cabinet Day provides a timely reminder of the importance of managing medications responsibly. This is not only to prevent misuse but also to ensure that those we care for, especially aging loved ones, are safely and effectively managing their prescriptions. For families navigating the complexities of elder care, however, medication management can be a daunting task. This challenge underscores the broader necessity of proactive planning, not just in healthcare but across all aspects of caring for an elder, including ensuring that estate plans remain current and that there are long-term care plans in place. 

Where should we start in this type of planning? How can we help those aging loved ones in our lives that we are caring for? Let us share just a few practical tips to help your aging loved ones with medication management, alongside the critical step of reviewing their estate plan.

1. Organize and dispose. Start by helping your loved one clean out their medicine cabinet, safely disposing of expired or unused medications. This reduces confusion and the risk of taking the wrong medication.

2. Use a pill organizer. Pill organizers can simplify the process, especially for those on multiple medications. Consider using a system that separates morning and evening doses for each day of the week.

3. Maintain an updated Medication List. Keep a current list of all medications, including dosages and prescribing doctors. This list should be readily accessible in case of an emergency.

4. Set reminders. Use timers, alarms, or smartphone apps to remind your loved one when it is time to take their medication. Consistency is key to effectiveness.

5. Review medications regularly with healthcare providers. Ensure that your loved one’s medications are reviewed periodically by their healthcare providers, checking for any that could be discontinued or adjusted.

6. Understand each medication. Make sure both you and your loved one understand what each medication is for, as well as any potential side effects or interactions to watch for.

While managing medications is crucial for the immediate well-being of your aging loved ones, integrating this care into a broader estate planning and elder law strategy is just as vital for their long-term security. For example, your loved one’s estate plan needs to include up-to-date healthcare directives that reflect your loved one’s current medical needs and treatment preferences. This can also designate who has the authority to make medical decisions if your loved one is unable to do so. Along with healthcare directives, review other critical documents like wills, trusts, and powers of attorney. Changes in health status, like the need for medication management, may necessitate updates to these documents.

Meeting with a Florida estate planning and elder law attorney can help ensure that your loved one’s medication management needs are considered within the broader context of their needs as they age.  This might involve updating existing estate planning to select decision makers who are readily available now and also making long-term care plans to ensure the ability to become eligible for public benefits to help pay for care such as the Medicaid program.

National Clean Out Your Medicine Cabinet Day serves as an excellent opportunity to address medication management for your aging loved ones, promoting both their health and safety. Equally important is ensuring that these efforts are part of a comprehensive approach to elder care, including a current and cohesive estate and elder law plan. When you choose to take proactive steps you can ensure your loved ones are protected and their wishes honored, both now and in the future.

Remember, you are not alone in this journey.  We do telephone, computer, and face-to-face appointments. Our face-to-face appointments are held outside in the open air (frequently selected by clients for document signing) and inside our office conference room. We follow all CDC guidelines. Our office procedures adhere to COVID-19 safety protocols and are designed and enhanced by medical review and air quality engineering. We encourage you to contact us to schedule a meeting.