My mother has Alzheimer’s. How can I help her manage her own medications and stay at home as long as possible?

There are several ways you can handle this situation. Of course, it is very important she takes her medications as prescribed. Otherwise, there can be multiple problems for her, physically or mentally, and ultimately for those around her as well. How you tackle meeting her needs will depend on how much medication she takes, how often she takes it and also her ability to sort things out.

If she just needs reminders but is otherwise capable of taking them herself, you can buy any of the various reminder systems available at a drug store or other retail outlet. These can be as simple as pillboxes with compartments for each day of the week. Then, you can just call at the beginning of the week to make sure she has things set up properly — and make sure she starts taking them appropriately, too. If necessary, you might have a visiting nurse or even a friend stop in and fill the compartments.

There are also systems with alarms that will issue reminders about when to take meds. You will have to decide which is best for her, depending on her functioning level, possible level of confusion and other ability gauges. If having yourself or someone else phone her and reminder to take her medications at the appropriate times isn’t working, you definitely need to hire or appoint someone to do it in person.

Adult day centers also can help with medications. If the center has a nurse, that person can assist with drug administration, should your mother need it. If this is the case, you are required to take the medication(s) in original packaging, with the doctor’s order on the container. This attention to her care will help her stay in her home longer.