Using Smartphones To Help Manage Your Medications

Guest article by Medidex

Age should be its own reward; for the elderly, it is important to make the most of their golden years, spending it with family and friends instead of at the pharmacy or doctor’s office. But for many senior citizens, managing and adhering to their medication can chew up the bulk of their time and patience and eat away at their moral. Managing multiple medications is unavoidable when it comes to chronic illness and geriatric care because the risk of improperly adhering to medications can lead to serious health complications.

Research has shown that half of all patients misinterpret at least one of their prescription labels. This kind of user-error is exceedingly common among older demographics. Of course, pharmacies do their part in printing essential information such as health risks and dosage requirements, but they still cannot ensure each medication is taken properly; it is hard enough having to take one pill daily, any more than that starts to feel like a juggling act.

There are a few methods to help make medication management more stress-free and routine—such as pill dispensers, medication calendars, handwritten lists of medications, and of course meticulous relatives. Smartphones are now improving on these existing medication management methods and becoming powerful solutions to help support patients with the many challenges of living with chronic conditions. Let us look at some simple ways smartphones are being used to facilitate better medication adherence, and therefore healthier and longer lives.

1. Keep a list of current and past medications always handy

A major hurdle to managing medications is understanding the medications you are taking. With names like Idarucizumab and AbobotulinumtoxinA, many medications are just impossible to memorize. While those examples may be extreme, even more common brand name drugs like Symbicort® may be difficult to recall on hand. For somebody taking 2-3 drugs this might not be the biggest deal, but many older patients end up on way more meds than that.

Having your medication history handy is a major convenience for things like intake during doctor visits, and it can even avert disaster in emergencies where time and accurate information are critical. Many patients I speak with have no method for remembering their medication names, but some do keep a list on a notepad or post-it note for reference. This can be a good solution to remembering your meds, especially if you keep the list on your person at all times such as in a wallet or purse.

With mobile smartphones, it is extremely simple to keep yourself from losing your medication list by storing it in your phone. We usually have our phones with us, and they can be easier to read than hand written notes. Creating a list can be done on a phones note pad, but for an easier and more robust experience that includes things like a drug name search, listing available dosages, and medication directions; you can try out something like the free MedManage app to create an electronic medication list. Using an app that’s customized for medications can provide you with a medicine list that has plenty of useful info, minus the extra effort. As an example, check out the picture below of a couple of medication lists in MedManage. It includes info such as the disease indication, as we all as comprehensive dosage directions which are extremely useful for you and your healthcare provider to know.

2. Quickly reference drug information

Another way smartphones can be helpful to properly managing medication use is as a reference tool for drug info. A person should definitely be wary about information on the internet, especially something like medical health information. However, with limited face-to-face time with physicians, doing some independent research can be extremely helpful before or after a doctor’s appointment.

You can use a drug reference database to search for the medications your doctor recommends or prescribes. This will allow you to be more informed about what the drug is and how it works, potential side effects or adverse events, medication usage guides, storage instructions, and more. Since it is all on the internet, all this information can be readily accessed on the go using a smartphone.

Researching the treatment options available is also important because there are a variety of ways to treat illnesses. Having an informed patient who understands the pros and cons of different treatment options can be extremely helpful to a healthcare provider, and aid in making a personalized treatment plan. For example, a person with asthma who doesn’t seem to be getting benefit from their inhaler could look up what types of inhalers are available and discuss those options with their doctor based on what they read.

3. Utilize medication reminder alerts or alarms

Having an alarm or alert can be extremely helpful in remembering to take medications, especially for patients experiencing memory loss. Electronic reminders have been shown to be effective at improving adherence throughout a wide range of scientific studies. The multi-study review looked at electronic alarms and phone message alerts and found them both to have a positive effect on medication adherence. If your medication schedule is simple, a daily alarm or two on your phone can help you stay on top of taking your meds. For more complicated drug regimens you can use the free app mentioned above, MedManage, to set up several automated electronic medication reminder alerts easily and hassle free.

The increase in healthcare information and technology is increasing our ability maintain health records easily and access information online on demand. While these changes might seem scary at first and difficult to navigate, they are there to be helpful and save people time. Why not try it out and see if it works for you?

How to Choose a Nursing Home

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Nursing homes often become an extension of a hospital stay for seniors on Medicare or Medicaid. When choosing a nursing home for rehabilitation, it’s important to know Medicare will pay only a portion of the costs. For example, Medicare will cover the daily fee, for the first 20 days, upon pre-approval by a medical doctor and then may pay for days 21 through 100, the maximum stay for reimbursement. This means that Medicare’s full benefit upon doctor approval only pays for a little more than three months of a nursing home stay.

Medicaid, the low-income version of Medicare, does pay for ongoing stays in nursing homes that accept Medicaid as payment.

Tips for Choosing a Nursing Home
  1. Organize the senior’s long-term financial capabilities​ including monthly income and all assets owned, including homes and cars. Review ​​Medicaid​ financial qualifications for the state where the senior lives. This allows you to financially prepare for long-term nursing home care needs and possible Medicaid-spend down
  2. Find ​nursing homes​ in your area who accept Medicare as payment vs. Medicaid as payment.​ Usually nursing homes primarily accepting Medicare or private pay will allow a senior to stay if they spend-down to Medicaid even though they would not accept the senior on Medicaid as a new patient. Keep in mind that as Medicaid reimbursements can be lower, the 100% Medicaid nursing homes may not offer as many amenities.
  3. Review Caregiverlist nursing home ​star ratings,​​ which include the top criteria impacting quality of care: Overall Medicare Star Rating, % of Short-stay Residents with Pressure Sores, Certified Nursing Aide (C.N.A.) hours per resident per day, % of Long-term Residents whose need for help with Daily Activities has increased. Make special note of the C.N.A. hours per resident as many times nursing homes suggest hiring a private duty caregiver if more care is needed when the staffing ratio is only 1 C.N.A. to 12 or more residents.
  4. Review the ownership of the nursing home. ​Nursing homes may be owned by hospitals or healthcare groups or equity groups. This will be an indication of what focus is more important: care or profits.
  5. Find licensed senior home care agencies in your area to have as an alternative to nursing ​home care. Senior home care agencies provide one-to-one care and often cost less than a nursing home.

You Want Me to Do What With My Leg? The Surprising Benefits of Yoga for Seniors

As we age, the general consensus seems to be that we need to take it easy, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth. Less movement means we are more likely to experience health issues such as arthritis, lower joint flexibility, chronic pain, and sleep issues. Luckily there is an activity that can help with these issues, even if you are already experiencing them – yoga.

You might be thinking that you can’t possibly twist yourself into a pretzel, but yoga doesn’t have to be painful or even dangerous. a such as the Warrior, Tree, Seated Twist, and Cow are all moves with low impact and strain, and all provide some of the following benefits:

You might be thinking that you can’t possibly twist yourself into a pretzel, but yoga doesn’t have to be painful or even dangerous. Simple moves such as the Warrior, Tree, Seated Twist, and Cow are all moves with low impact and strain, and all provide some of the following benefits:

1. Movement – You may have noticed that your movement, balance, and flexibility just aren’t what it used to be. While yoga can’t return you to the limberness of your twenties, it can greatly improve it. Think of yoga as a daily realignment, teaching your body to naturally fall into the proper posture to maximize comfort, balance, and even respiratory function. The smooth, fluid movements are low-impact, working to slowly work stiff joints. After each session you’ll notice your flexibility is slightly improved from the last time.

2. Pain Relief – Millions of people suffer from chronic pain, desperate for relief. The good news is that yoga can help. Chronic pain has been shown to decrease gray and white matter in the brain, leading to decreased cognitive functioning and higher pain perception. Yoga replenishes your brain matter as well as reduces one of the common aggravators of chronic pain – stress. Yoga that focuses on relaxation, such as restorative or gentle yoga, could be the pain reliever you are looking for, giving you the ability to pursue other physical activities that your pain once kept you from.

3. Sleep – How many times do you see seniors depicted as spending their day napping on the sofa? While this is a stereotype, you might prefer a nap if you aren’t getting enough sleep at night, which can carry over into your daily life. Would you rather go on a brisk walk or take a snooze since it didn’t happen last night? Yoga can promote healthy sleep patterns, giving you the energy to conquer the day and put a little pep in your step.

If you are interested in giving yoga a try, give your local yoga studio a call or check with a senior center to see about potentially starting a class. Yoga can be done in your home as well, so invite over a friend, and get to it.

By now we all know that physical activity is good for you, but how much walking can you do before you are bored of the idea all together? Don’t give up just yet, as regular exercise can prevent and delay disease, improve mood, and increase flexibility. If you are looking for a fun way to get moving again, check out these suggestions:

1. Bowling – You’re probably wondering how bowling is possibly considered a form of exercise. Well, it is! The metabolic rate for sitting is 1.0, which is the number of calories burned. Bowling comes in at 3.5, which is comparable to playing a round of golf (minus the sweat). While bowling won’t improve your cardiovascular system, your musculoskeletal system will take a positive hit from the short bursts of energy: getting up, taking your turn, repeat. If you’ve lived a sedentary lifestyle up to this point, bowling is a great way to make the transition.

2. Wii Games – If you have grandkids or have been around young children, you are likely familiar with the Wii craze. A Wii is a gaming system that allows you to enter the virtual world via a remote. You can golf, bowl, play tennis, practice yoga, or even drive a racecar. While this system was originally intended for entertainment, add-ons such as balance boards and remotes that monitor arm movement encourage physical activity and fun.

3. Spinning – Dust off your old bike or join a spinning class to enjoy a favorite childhood pastime. While your days of pedaling furiously up and down hills might be behind you, you can certainly slow it down to a more manageable speed, strengthening your heart and raising your lung capacity. You’ll find that you also build muscle strength, fighting back against muscle loss and improving balance and coordination.

As you can see, getting active doesn’t have to be boring or monotonous. Find an activity you enjoy and reap the physical health benefits as an added bonus.