Managing your health conditions
Managing different healthcare providers and medications when you or your loved one has dementia can be complicated. Dementia can also make it more difficult to manage other health conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and mental health problems. In this section, we share information that can be helpful if you’re asking yourself questions like:
- What are some ways that I can manage the information I receive from different health services?
- What do I do if I’m experiencing changes in my health?
- I am not sure if the medications are working. Who can I speak to?
- How can I make sure the medication is taken consistently?
- Who do I ask about which medications I should take?
- Where can I find more information?
Here are some tips that can be helpful in managing dementia and other health conditions:
- Involve a trusted person (i.e. spouse, child, friend) early on to be a health care service contact and advocate. This person’s role will increase over time so it is essential to have a trusted person involved as soon as possible to make things easier to manage for both the person living with dementia and the caregiver.
- Make a list of the different health care providers you have in place, the different health issues you are experiencing, as well as the current treatment plan:
- The Champlain Dementia Network has developed a personal health record that can help you in putting all of the information related to your health conditions in one place
- All about me: A conversation starter. Use this document to develop a “who am I” summary to share with your healthcare team, expressing your needs/wants/likes/allergies in a single document.
- Sometimes, people choose to keep a journal of each healthcare visit so that they can share this information with different healthcare providers at appointments.
- Develop a detailed medication list Including medication, dosage, times to be taken, common side effects, and why the medication is being taken. You may also want to have a strategy for medications to be taken as prescribed; may include daily rituals and safe storage of excess medication
- The Alzheimer Association in the United States provides an overview of Taking Medication Safely which has a variety of safety tips to consider.
- Talk to your family doctor or your pharmacist if you have questions about health conditions and whether or not you are taking the right medications. Don’t forget to tell them if you are taking non-prescription medication such as over the counter allergy/cold/pain medication and any homeopathic remedies that may interact with any prescription medication.
- Preparing for your doctor’s visit is a helpful overview that will help you to think about, and prepare for your appointments.
- If you have questions about your medications, or how you are taking them, ask your pharmacist.
- MedsCheck. You may be eligible for a free yearly, one-on-one medication review consultation with your pharmacist if you are taking 3 or more prescription medications for a chronic condition, have diabetes or live in a long-term care home. On average it takes 20-30 minutes. Talk to yourPharmacist or contact INFOline 1-866-255-6701 or TTY 1-800-387-5599
- Try keeping a regular routine and strategies to make managing medication easier such as:
- special pillboxes, called dosettes, with sections to organize all the medications for a day or week
- “blister packs” made by pharmacies that have the name and time of each medication arranged in the right order for each day
- keeping medication in the same spot or in an obvious location (ex. on kitchen table)
- associate medication with a regular daily activity such as meals
- visual reminders or notes around the home such as “take medication”
- keep a daily log to keep track of times that the medication was taken
- telephone call reminders from loved ones
- arrange for daily or weekly delivery from the pharmacy to act as a reminder
- If taking medication becomes harder because of forgetting to take medication, taking too much or at the wrong time, see the local resources box as it may be time to have regular assistance with this.
- Finding a Family Doctor. If you do not have a family doctor you can use this site to locate those accepting new patients.
- Different medications and/or health conditions (including dementia) can put you at greater risk for falls – you can use this survey to see if you should speak to your family doctor about getting referred for services to help prevent falls. There are also free exercise programs that can help improve your strength and balance.
- If you are experiencing a number of different health issues, you may want to speak to your family doctor about being referred to a local service to have a geriatric assessment – this assessment is for people aged 65 and over who have a variety of concerns such as:
- Recent changes in physical, mental or functional abilities, changes in memory and/or mood.
- Major changes in support needs, caregiver stress and future planning.
- Safety concerns – physical, psychological, social, environmental.
- Sudden increase in the use of health care services over the last 6 months.
The assessment is focused on how to help people in staying healthy, and becoming more healthy
- Community Support services offer a range of services that can help you including support in the home, foot care, transportation, day programs and home maintenance. Follow the link to find out which services are available in your neighbourhood.
- Alzheimer societies offer one to one support and can help direct you to the most appropriate resources for your situation.
- A Community Care Access Centre program that can help people in the community get the day to day assistance and supervision they require such as providing reminders and monitoring to ensure they are taking their medication.