Monitoring Medications for Dementia Patients

Did you know?

You can use these worksheets to monitor medications, symptoms, and abilities.

As discussed in the treatment section, an individual with dementia may be taking several medications: prescription, over-the-counter, and herbal supplements. Given the fact that many people will take several medications at once, people with dementia can face difficult questions in managing their own medications:

  • How many kinds of medication do I take right now?
  • Did I already take my morning dose?
  • Can I take these prescriptions at the same time?

Suggestions for Caregivers

Follow a Routine

Make taking medications a normal part of the daily routine by pairing dosing with events throughout the day, such as meal time, going to or getting up from bed, or going for a run. If your loved one does not want to take a medication at a particular time, try moving on to some other activity and then offering the medicine later.

Get Organized

  • Pill containers, envelopes, or other containers that can organize doses of medication by time of day and day of the week can help individuals with dementia keep track of when to take medicine – they can also see when a particular dose has already been taken.
  • Keep a daily log of what medications need to be taken and when – such a chart can be a quick visual reminder.
  • Have a calendar or some other reminder of time around as your loved one’s awareness of time decreases.
  • Keep a record of all the medications your loved one is currently taking, along with information about the dosing, possible side effects, and refill instructions for each as an easy reference.

To prevent emergencies like overdose, medication should be stored securely in a locked drawer or cabinet and not left out with your loved one. Signs that your loved one may have overdosed include uncharacteristic changes in behavior such as extreme tiredness or agitation.

Keep Notes

Document and relay information about medication side effects or changes in behavior and ability to your loved one’s doctor. You are in a key position to help your loved one get the best diagnosis and treatment possible. In a brief appointment, the physician often cannot detect all the problems that your loved one has been experiencing.


Drugs: What Every Caregiver Should Know

Description: This web page lists questions caregivers should find the answers to about the medications their loved one is prescribed.

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Hey, You, Take your Pill!

Description: This article discusses potential benefits and downfalls of electronic tools that help patients remember to take their medications. It suggests discusses factors other than memory that affect whether or not a medication is taken and also discusses the role of the caregiver in monitoring medication.

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Giving Medication as Prescribed: Fact Sheet

Source: AlzOnline
Description: This web page offers guidance on how to give medication properly. It is organized into five "rights" (medication, dose, time, conditions, and reason). It also discusses why following directions is important, common ways that medication mistakes occur, how to work with doctors and pharmacists, how to obtain medications conveniently, and medication issues for caregivers.

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Fact Sheet: Medication

Source: Alzheimer's Association
Description: This fact sheet for caregivers discusses medication management issues, such as over-medication and drug combinations, and provides advices on how caregivers can avoid these problems.

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