How to Help a Diabetic Follow Medication Recommendations
Taking diabetes medications correctly
Here's how you can help someone benefit the most from diabetes medications:
Get the facts
To emphasize the importance of taking meds, have a professional explain -- to you and the person in your care -- why a medication is prescribed, how it works, how often it needs to be taken, and a time frame for when improvements should be seen. Ask about any potential side effects or medical interactions and any symptoms that warrant seeking medical advice.
Find out, too, if a prescribed pill should be taken with or without food or fluid. Should it be taken before or after eating, and should it be chewed or swallowed? People with type 2 diabetes also need to know how food, exercise, stress, or illness can affect how a medication works. A patient's doctor, nurse practitioner, and pharmacist are all potential resources for getting the answers to these questions.
Keep a record
Make sure the person in your care has a written record of the dosage, timing, and potential side effects of his medications from his doctor, nurse, or pharmacist, as it's easy to forget complicated instructions over time. You and any other caregivers should also keep a copy of this information. If the patient is vision-impaired, have him carry a small tape recorder to doctor's appointments or visits to the pharmacist to record the medication directions he needs.
Make a list
Juggling multiple medications can be confusing, so keep an up-to-date medication list in a convenient location at the patient's home and jot down details such as drugs prescribed, when they should be taken, and the dosage. (The American Society of Consultant Pharmacists Research and Education Foundation offers a downloadable sample medication record form.) This list should include prescription drugs, over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, other nutritional aids, and any herbal or natural remedies.
Share this list with other caregivers and the professionals on his diabetes healthcare team. If several people are responsible for making sure meds are taken on time, a separate caregivers' notebook, complete with medical diagnoses, doctors' appointments, medication history, and any concerns or questions is also a good idea.
If, for instance, you intend to help him prepare or administer insulin injections, you'll need to learn how to use a syringe and needle and the correct technique for injecting insulin under the skin or into a vein or muscle. Make sure you feel comfortable, confident, and informed about preparing the proper dosage and giving the injection. Again, a doctor, a nurse in his office, or the patient's pharmacist can instruct you on matters such as handling and storing insulin, injection techniques, and syringe disposal.