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Medication management activities performed by informal caregivers of older adults

Background: Medication management is commonly performed by informal caregivers, yet they are often unprepared and ill-equipped to manage complex medication regimens for their older adult care recipients. In order to develop interventions that will enhance the caregiver's ability to safely and confidently manage medications, it is critical to first understand caregiver challenges and unmet needs related to medication management.; Objectives: To explore how informal caregivers manage medications for their older adult care recipients by identifying the activities involved in medication management and the tools or strategies used to facilitate these activities.; Methods: Four focus groups with caregivers of older adults were conducted with 5-9 caregivers per group. Participants were asked to describe the medication management activities performed and the tools or strategies used to facilitate these activities. Focus groups were recorded, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed for themes using an inductive approach.; Results: Caregivers were commonly involved in 2 types of activities: direct activities requiring physical handling of medications such as obtaining medications, preparing pill boxes, and assisting with medication administration; and indirect activities that were more complex and required more of a cognitive effort by the caregiver, such as organizing and tracking medications, gathering information, and making treatment decisions. They utilized a variety of tools and strategies to support these medication management activities; however, these approaches often needed to be modified or personalized to meet the specific needs of their caregiving situation.; Conclusions: Informal caregivers play a vital role in ensuring safe and appropriate medication use by older adults. Medication management is complex and involves many activities that are supported through the use of a variety of tools and strategies that have been adapted and individualized to each specific caregiving scenario. Caregivers should be an important component of interventions that aim to improve medication use among older adults.

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Journal article
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Research In Social & Administrative Pharmacy
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