the art of caring for your aging loved one

Blister Packs

A row of bottles on my shelf
Caused me to analyze myself.
One yellow pill I have to pop
Goes to my heart so it won't stop.
A little white one that I take
Goes to my hands so they won't shake.
The blue ones that I use a lot
Tell me I'm happy when I'm not.
The purple pill goes to my brain
And tells me that I have no pain.
The capsules tell me not to wheeze
Or cough or choke or even sneeze.
The red ones, smallest of them all
Go to my blood so I won't fall.
The orange ones, very big and bright,
Prevent my leg cramps in the night.
Such an array of brilliant pills
Helping to cure all kinds of ills.
But what I'd really like to know...
What tells each one where to go?

How nice it is that wrinkles don't hurt!

Why Blister Packs?

Pills seem to be part of the process. They can be a genuine source of confusion for some seniors. When you notice that your Aging Loved One isn't taking medications according to doctor's orders, blister packs may be the answer.

Ask the GP to write on his prescription pad all of the medications. Take that paper to the pharmacy, preferably one nearby that delivers. The Pharmacist will contact the GP. Monthly or as directed by the family doctor (or GP), the pharmacist will create the packs.

They consist of clear little pouches containing each day's pills, sorted according to the day of the week and time of day they should be taken, be it breakfast, lunch, dinner, or bedtime. When a doctor orders a new medication, take the prescription form and the existing Blister Packs to the same pharmacy and the new pills will be added to the packs.

It's easy to look at the packs and see if any doses have been missed.

And if a dose or two have been missed? Try to avoid, "Hey! You've missed your pills! Why didn't you take them?"

You will only make someone upset.

There may be a reason. "I went out for lunch with my friend and forgot to take them with me." (Think of the number of times you have gone to the grocery store, leaving your shopping list on the kitchen table.)

Beware: Never take extra pills to make up for the missed dose.

Keep an eye on the blister packs, however, over the next few weeks. Are there more "misses" than you think are wise? Is it time to chat with your Aging Loved One and with the family doctor?

Do it yourself

Blister packs may not be suitable for everyone, especially when prescription drugs are not involved. You may wish to organize daily vitamin pills, for example. Ask at the pharmacy for weekly pill boxes, or "dosettes." There are several configurations such as Sunday through Saturday, once per day, or breakfast, lunch, dinner, etc. A pharmacy team member can suggest the best system for you. Once a week, you can load the little sections for the week. Or buy 4 boxes, label them, and load them up for 4 weeks. These boxes are not as detailed as the blister packs, but are fine for people who have only a few pills and are very sure when to take each one.

Encourage ... well, insist if you can ... that pills should go down with a large glass of clear water. None of this bragging, "I can take pills without anything!" That's old school, Dad. Bottoms up.

Swoop and Discard

While we are talking about medications, do a discreet swoop of the house with a dark plastic bag in hand. There may be pills and liquids from the Ark, and they may not all be in the medicine cabinet. Kitchen and dresser drawers are favourite spots.

Caught in the act? Oopsie. Gently remind your Aging Loved One that the old pills won't be necessary because new ones will come in packages. Don't back down on this one.


Put them into the bag and get them out of the house ... Pronto! Don't take "NO" for an answer. Patients may become confused and mistakenly take the wrong pills, either their own or those for someone else.

Take the pills to the pharmacy for safe disposal. Don't flush them down the toilet.

Remember ... Someone sent out a signal or a call for help. You are providing valuable help.