Friday, January 18, 2013

Guest Post: A Better Way to Manage Medications

By Brian Gough
Beelines Medication List

I was surprised and unprepared when I had to become a caregiver for my elderly mother.  She fell and broke her leg when she was 78. During surgery to repair her leg, her doctors discovered serious heart issues. She came home with handwritten directions for taking 17 different medications, most on a daily basis. My father, who could help with many of her daily needs, is legally blind. Managing her medications was overwhelming for both of them. This event is not unlike other situations that thrust sandwichers like me into becoming caregivers for their aging parents, and was the catalyst for what became the Beelines Medication List.


I needed a simple tool that would help me record and organize my mother’s medications. Reading the undifferentiated information on the handwritten list was stressful and time consuming. My first thought was to design a version presenting the same information in a format that was clear and unambiguous. For the last 2 years, I have used the Beelines MedList to fill my mother’s pill box and take to all her doctor’s appointments. This list has given all of us confidence and reassurance that the medications she takes daily are dosed correctly and comply with her doctor’s orders. It has been so successful for my family that I wanted to make the Beelines MedList available to anyone who needs a more user-friendly tool to manage their medications.

Why create and use a medication list? There are many reasons that have been well documented about why it is important to use a medication list. The benefits for patients include:
  • Reducing their risk from medication errors;
  • Becoming more engaged participants in their own healthcare;
  • Improving clinical outcomes;
  • Gaining knowledge regarding safe medication management and effective communication with their healthcare providers; and
  • Becoming advocates for themselves and others regarding safe medication management and communication with healthcare providers. (1)


A medication list can save your life. As you may have already read on this blog regarding dementia and delirium, without clear medication records, there is a higher risk of adverse drug interaction in patient care. “Bring a full medication list to any new health professional. Many drugs that act on the brain can cause delirium, including narcotic painkillers, sedatives, stimulants, sleeping pills, antidepressants, Parkinson’s disease medication and antipsychotics. Even antihistamines and some drugs for digestive problems, allergies and severe asthma can contribute to delirium. Additionally, all medications should be reported because they could interact with drugs given in the hospital.” (2)

At home, my mother’s Beelines MedList has served many of the roles listed above. One other effective use, I have found, is to post her medication list on the refrigerator in case of an emergency. (Emergency medical teams will look for critical information on the refrigerator if they are responding to a call for help.)

Whether you use the free Beelines Medication List at or another medication list tool to organize medications for daily dosing and compliance, don’t wait to take this important step in caring for yourself or others.

(1) "How to Create an Accurate Medication List in the Outpatient Setting through a Patient-Centered Approach." Kathy Leonhardt, MD, MPH; Deborah Bonin, RHIA, CPHQ; Patti Pagle, RN, BSN; Aurora Health Care / Walworth County, WI, 2007.

(2) "Dementia: When a Hospital Visit Becomes a Medical Emergency." Nanette J. Davis, Ph.D.;; Sunday, September 2, 2012.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Guest Post: Tips for Hiring an In-Home Caregiver

By CareSimply

As your parents and other loved ones get older, your top concern becomes providing them with the care they need in a comfortable environment. A comfortable environment for aging Americans increasingly means remaining in their own home, rather than moving to a retirement home or other institution. In a 2005 survey by AARP, 89 percent of people age 50 and older said they would prefer to remain in their home indefinitely as they age. Aging at home gives adults more independence in a comfortable, familiar environment. Family members of aging adults want to respect their wishes to remain at home, but also make sure they receive the care they need. Hiring an in-home caregiver is a great solution, but many families have a difficult time finding adequate help.

It’s normal to feel overwhelmed by the process of hiring care, especially if you’ve never been in a hiring position before. While the process may be stressful at times, it’s certainly not impossible. You are more than capable of managing it when armed with the right information. We’ve come up with CareSimply’s Guide to Hiring an In-Home Caregiver to help you navigate the process and point you to helpful resources. In this blog post, we summarize our comprehensive guide by covering the five basic steps for finding and hiring an in-home caregiver.

(1) The first step in finding a caregiver is to assess the caregiving situation. It’s important to evaluate your loved one’s needs before beginning the hiring process. Signs that your loved one may need help at home include difficulty with everyday activities, such as household chores, personal hygiene, and running errands. You should consider the following four areas when assessing your home care needs:

        Personal Care: Personal hygiene, bathing, toileting, dressing, eating, etc.

        Household Care: Cooking, cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping

        Health Care: Medication management, physical therapy, operation of special medical equipment

        Emotional Care: In addition to all other types of care your loved one needs, the caregiver you hire should provide companionship for your loved one. This includes engaging in conversations and participating in meaningful activities together.

(2) Once you’ve assessed the caregiving situation, it’s time to clearly define your needs to ensure you’ll be able to find a qualified worker for the job. When defining your needs, you’ll want to write a job description to lay out your caregiving expectations. Your job description should include the types of duties the caregiver will need to perform, any special skills or health care training required, and hours the caregiver will be expected to work. You’ll also want to start thinking about how many caregivers you should hire. For full-time care, we recommend 3-4 caregivers. If your loved one only needs care for a few hours each week, 1-2 caregivers will work great. When writing a job description, it’s also important to determine your budget for caregiving. For helpful budgeting resources, visit Medicare,, and the Paying for Senior Care guide.

(3) The next step in the process is to decide how you want to hire a caregiver. Depending on your budget and care needs, there are typically two ways to go about hiring an in-home caregiver - going through a traditional home care agency or hiring a caregiver independently. Home-care agencies handle all caregiver screening, hiring, payroll, and taxes, but they are the most expensive option for hiring care. Agencies offer limited control in the hiring process, making it more difficult to ensure that the caregiver is a good match for your loved one. On the other hand, hiring independently gives you more control over the process, but it requires more time and effort than going through an agency. Hiring independently is less expensive, since it requires you to take on the entire searching, hiring, and payroll process.

There are other services that assist you in hiring your caregiver directly. Websites like CareSimply let you browse online caregiver profiles for qualifications, reviews, and availability, giving you control over the hiring process, while eliminating the headache of payroll and tax paperwork.

(4) After deciding on a hiring method, the next step is to choose your caregiver. It’s important to speak with your caregiver before they begin the job, either in person or over the phone. Start the conversation by describing the details of the job, then, to further gauge compatibility, ask them about their background and interests. If you’re hiring through an agency, they will most likely handle the more formal interview questions, but if you are hiring independently, the full interview will be your responsibility. See CareSimply’s Interview Guide for a list of questions to ask. Once you narrow your selection down to 2 or 3 candidates, the next step is conducting reference checks. Ask each candidate to provide 2-3 work or personal references for you to contact. When calling the references, ask about their relationship to the candidate, their overall experience working with them, and if they would recommend the candidate as a caregiver.

(5) Once you’ve found the right caregiver for your loved one, you’ll want to continuously evaluate the experience to make sure everything is still going well. A good way to do this is to schedule regular meetings with the caregiver to discuss their responsibilities and any concerns or changes. 

Most importantly, sit down with your loved one to make sure they are satisfied with the person providing care. Ask them whether they feel comfortable with their caregiver, and if not, have them identify specific problems or concerns. If your assessment uncovers any problems, it may be time to revisit the hiring process. Finally, if your loved one’s care plan is going well, tell your caregiver they are doing a great job. Caregiving is not easy, and it’s important for your caregiver to feel appreciated! 

Founded in 2012, CareSimply is the easiest way to connect caregivers with people that need local, quality in-home care. It is an incredibly reliable, affordable and simple way to hire quality care services and manage household employees. CareSimply services range from companionship to Alzheimer's care. CareSimply is backed by seed investor Right Side Capital Management and start-up foundry Sandbox Industries.