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Your loved one needs a hero. You are the one! (Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.)
Figuring out how to handle medication is harder than it looks when cancer explodes into the scenario and things start to get hectic…
Medication is a pretty easy thing to screw up when the circumstances are perfect.
So, when the circumstances become stressful and complicated, and meds and dosages are changing frequently… they are REALLY easy to screw up.
During our cancer journey, my dad stayed really independent with everything. He had always handled medication on his own.
One crazy day after our 3rd med change that month, the directions got screwed up and he accidentally doubled something major and gave himself several mg higher than the recommended daily allowance.
And he continued that regimen for at least two weeks.
He was sick, I mean really sick. And, no one could figure out why he suddenly got so sick… until we realized we were short on medication for the rest of the month.
The truth is we got lucky.
It could have been so much worse. With some medication, a mistake like that doesn’t provide for second chances.
Needless to say, we learned an important lesson that day.
His job was to deal with battling cancer, our job was to give him the support he needed during the battle.
We failed miserably at the support part.
How to handle medication …
- Do you know what medicine your loved one takes on a daily basis and what it’s for?
- Do you know the dosages?
- Do you know what time they take each pill?
- Or if there are any special instructions?
If your loved one woke up tomorrow and couldn’t handle the medication … would you be able to do it?
Or, could you talk the Emergency Room medical staff through your loved one’s medication list and give them at least the basic information they need?
Because most people don’t have a plan for things like this. And when chaos ensues… they find themselves totally unprepared.
That’s exactly what happened to us.
Cancer changes everything. Including the abilities that your loved one may have to manage their daily lives.
I can now tell you anything about my dad’s meds, his treatment, his diagnosis, everything.
You should discuss if your loved one would like help to handle the medication. If things are going fine, then leave it as it is…
You still need to prepare for emergencies.
Your loved one has enough complicated and confusing stuff going on to deal with already. What if something changes drastically and no one knows what to do?
Even if your loved one has full control over this part of their treatment, you should still have a back-up person who knows how to do the entire med process and can find the necessary information when you need it.
Get started with a list
Grab our free medication list and write down…
- The name of each medication.
- The time each med needs to be taken.
- The dosage of each medication.
- The reason for the med (blood thinner, heart rhythm).
The Med System
- You’ll need one 7- day pill box for each time of the day your loved one takes medication. Each time of the day should be a different color.
- So, if they take meds in the morning and the evening, you need two different color pill boxes.
This is a “check sheet” that you can mark off as you go along dispensing or “pouring” the meds. It allows you to keep track of what you have already dispensed vs. what still needs to be poured. You can use your own version… or use the free one we made for you!
(Hint: Print this in landscape mode.)
The Medication Process
- Write the name of each med on the Medication Record. (You may need multiple pages)
- Identify the time of day the meds need to be taken by highlighting the times on the Medication record.
- Start dispensing the meds into the appropriate pill box. (Morning meds go first.)
- Check off each med as you “pour” it into the pill box.
- At the bottom of the Medication Record, take a total pill count.
Quick tips we used that made things go smoother
- Using different color 7-day pill boxes to differentiate between morning and night meds, is super important so it’s clear which is which.
- We even wrote MORNING and EVENING on the boxes in permanent marker.
Why take a chance? There is so much to remember….
- We dispensed meds two weeks at a time.
- We started with morning meds and then did the evening. One medication at a time.
- Once all the meds were dispensed, we went back through the pills to ensure they were correct.
- Finally, you counted the pills as a double check.
We scheduled a specific day, every other week (depending on the system you use) to ensure that you never run out of medicine.
What do you do, when a medicine is discontinued, and you still have an entire bottle left? You can’t take it back to the pharmacy, and you can’t return to the doctor’s office… so what do you do?
You have two options:
If your medicine is sealed, you can contact this agency and see if they can use it.
Unsealed Medication: take it to your local sheriff’s department and they can destroy it for you.
But last week I had to take my mom to the hospital when she went into A-fib (she’s okay now!) and the doctor asked me if she takes a certain kind of heart medicine and I just stared…
Here we go again, I know nothing. ☹
Figuring out how to handle medication when cancer makes everything hectic is a key part of helping your loved one fight the battle.
P.S. If you’re overwhelmed by all this cancer business, we can relate!
The Cancer Binder Pack will walk you through the quick and easy system we used for organizing medical information.
Step-by-step instructions, printable forms, and monthly calendar pages so you can ALWAYS find what you need when you need it. And, the best part it’s FREE…
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