Keeping track of medications

Caregiving Tips

Guidance on how to properly care for your loved ones as they navigate through the aging process

AARP Expert

Keeping track of medications

When managing your own or a loved one's medications, there is a relatively simple way to keep track of what is taken routinely and which are for short term, like antibiotics. 


When you or your care-recipient finishes a medication, put the empty bottle in a see through zip lock bag, and if there were any side effects, write them on a piece of paper and put in the bottle. "Constipation for 3 days", or "sleepiness."  Before you put the pill bottle in the bag, call in the refill with 3 to 5 workdays in advance so the pharmacy and the prescribing provider can get to it right away. If it is a short term drug, you can write down: "for gout flare" in a bottle of prednisone, for example, or "tooth abscess infection" on a bottle of antibiotics. When you have an appointment with the primary care provider or a specialist, grab the bag. If there are duplicates, like 3 empty bottles of metformin, pitch out the oldest empty bottles.


You and your providers will be glad to have the information all together in a simple bag.