Tips for Preparing Medication Supply for Unexpected Emergencies
Although you can't predict the unexpected, you can be somewhat prepared. When it comes to your loved one's medication supply, that preparedness could be lifesaving.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that somewhere around 50 percent of Americans take one or more prescription medications every day. That number rises to 90 percent among people aged 65 and older, and 75 percent among people between 50 and 64 years old, according to KFF. Given those statistics, the odds are pretty good that you're already managing medications for your loved one, which is among the top challenges that seniors, the chronically ill, and their caregivers face.
When an emergency strikes, you might not be able to get out to the pharmacy to fill those important prescriptions. But there's good news. You can prepare now to be ready just in case. Use these tips for keeping your medication supply secure no matter what might pop up.
Create a Medication List
One important step in emergency preparation is keeping a list of all medications each person takes. When possible, go over that list with your loved one's doctor or a pharmacist to rank those medications according to how essential they are so you can prioritize them if necessary. Keep that list, along with a copy of your loved one's insurance card, in your emergency kit.
Keep Extra Prescription Meds on Hand
The CDC recommends keeping a backup supply of at least seven to 10 days' worth of medications on hand in clearly labeled, child-proof, waterproof containers. There are a couple of ways you can approach keeping extra meds in your supply. For starters, consider switching to 90-day prescription refills, if you haven't already. Then, talk to your pharmacy about refilling prescriptions early. Depending on the laws in your state and guidelines set by the insurance company, you might be able to request an emergency medication refill of up to 30 days of medication.
Stock Up on OTC Meds
Prescriptions aren't the only medications that should concern you. In addition, you should create a backup supply of any over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, vitamins, and supplements that are part of your loved one's regular routine. It also helps to always have a supply of just-in-case OTC meds, including pain relievers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen, anti-diarrheal drugs, and antihistamines. Monitor the supply regularly to make sure you always have at least an extra seven to 10 days' worth of stock available at any given time.
Consider Cooling Needs
Does your loved one take insulin or another medication that requires refrigeration? If the power goes out during an emergency, your refrigerator will only keep things cool for 12 to 24 hours. After that, you'll need to make alternate arrangements. One of the easiest solutions? Keep chemical ice packs and a cooler at the ready.
Store Everything Safely
Safety is important, particularly when it comes to medications. Roughly 60,000 kids end up in the emergency room every year after getting into a medication supply. It can be easy to forget safety issues when you're in the middle of an emergency. Make sure your supply is kept in clearly labeled, child-proof bottles and containers. It should be out of reach of pets and children. Periodically evaluate your supply to keep an eye on expiration dates or anything that has changed in the way it looks or smells.
Planning now can mean all the difference later. Plus, you'll be able to breathe a little easier knowing that even if the unexpected happens, you'll have your loved one's medication needs covered.