Most of us are used to handling our own medications. We know when to take our prescriptions, and popping an over the counter pain killer is a common as-needed thing. This isn’t how an assisted living facility operates, particularly in the memory care unit.
No Medications in the Room: There are two very good reasons for this rule. The first is something I observed. When our elder broke her ankle a year ago, she popped three strong prescription pain killers before I could get the bottle out of her hands. She’s lucky it didn’t kill her. She couldn’t remember that she’d already taken the medication and the pain was still intense.
The other is the ease with which other residents come and go into each other’s rooms. I don’t know if that happens in the rest of the assisted living facility, but it certainly does in the memory unit. Residents wander off with things, and a resident who grabs someone else’s medication could potentially lose their life.
Carefully Timed: Some medications have to be taken on an empty stomach at a specific time in the day. Some have to be taken with food. Pain killers have to be timed in order to avoid overdose. The med tech has a large notebook with everything written out for everyone. I’ve seen the med techs for the rest of the facility handing out medications at lunch. It’s a lot of work, but it protects the residents.
Signed Out: Our elder was indignant about this, but I wasn’t. We had to wait before going for a blood test until I could sign out an over the counter pain reliever. She couldn’t take it until the test was done, but her pain level was high and I wanted to give it to her as soon as possible. We had to wait until the tech could get the form and have me sign it before we could go.
This is important across the board. They need to know who has the medication and when the medication was given. If some medications require it, it’s best to do it for all medications. It could have been something far stronger, and having me acknowledge possession protects the facility, our elder and me.
Least Amount Possible: This doesn’t mean let the patient suffer. It means that if a lower dose of medication works, use the lower dose. That way, when things get worse there’s somewhere to go.
These rules make sense and they provide protection for the residents, the caregivers and the family. It’s good that they’ve thought enough ahead to have them in place.