As the majority of assisted living residents need help with their medication, it's important to know what to expect from communities in order to keep your loved one safe.

Medication Management in Assisted Living

Medication management is one of the key services provided in assisted living communities. In fact, 85 percent of assisted living residents require help with their medications in order to maintain a healthy quality of life. It's no surprise that the staff play an important role in keeping residents healthy and safe. If your loved one is in an assisted living community, you should be able to expect certain precautions and procedures regarding medication management.

Accurate Administration of Medication

This is understandably the number one concern of many families. You want to make sure that staff are giving the right medication to your loved one in the right doses and at the right time. One way an assisted living community can ensure this is happening is by documenting each administration of medication. Ask to check medication records to see how thoroughly your assisted living community's documentation is kept.

Compliance With State Laws

Different states have different requirements regarding medication management. In some states, assisted living residents are allowed to administer their own medication without any help from the community's staff. In other states, assisted living residents may not take their own medication without help unless a health care professional has conducted an assessment. This assessment measures whether the resident can identify their medications correctly and understands any changes in their medication routine.

Even if an assisted living is able to handle their own medication, they may still need help opening bottles or reminders about when to take the meds. Ask your staff what their own regulations and restrictions are, and how they compare to your state's regulations. For important questions on medication management, take a look at our list of 73 questions to ask your assisted living community. 

Clear Communication With Physicians

Assisted living residents often undergo changes to their medication regimen, and the facility staff must be in regular communication with the residents' physicians to keep up with the latest directives. All new prescriptions or changes to prescriptions should be obtained in writing and become part of each residents' file. Ask to see the written prescription record for your loved one, and check to make sure that alerts are posted clearly whenever a change is made to the medication routine.

Regular Reorders of Medications

You don't want any gaps in your loved one's medication regimen — in fact, in some cases, skipping a few doses of medication can be quite dangerous. It's very important, therefore, that your assisted living staff stay on top of the need to keep medication refills up to date at all times. Ask about their reordering procedures to avoid problems.

Monitoring Side Effects and Other Reactions

Especially when a new medication has been prescribed or an old one has been increased, it's important to keep an eye on your loved one for any dangerous or uncomfortable side effects. Some seniors also have allergic reactions to some medications, and those must be monitored as well. Ask your assisted living community how they follow up on medication changes, how long they monitor for adverse reactions, and how they document and respond to any issues.

As a caregiver, you have the right to expect meticulous record-keeping and perfectly executed procedures regarding medication management in your loved one's assisted living community. Check out how your community is doing by following these guidelines. If your loved one resides at an assisted living nearby, give the community an in-person visit so you can feel confident that your beloved senior is well cared for.

For more resources on senior health, click here. 

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