By Carol Levine

Does the cabinet where your parent (or you) keeps pills, ointments, and inhalers look like a mini-pharmacy? Many people in need of long-term care (older people and those with chronic conditions) take a lot of medications. It’s hard to keep them organized and follow the doctor’s orders exactly, and vitamins, herbals, and supplements may have been added to the collection.

Beyond asking a doctor whether all these drugs are really necessary, there are some things you can do to bring some order to the process and make it easier to know what to take, when, and how, and when to renew prescriptions.

Make a list

The first step is to make a comprehensive list of all the medications, including over-the-counter drugs like aspirin and laxatives. You can write these out in a notebook or use one of several online forms. Here are two examples:

Next Step in Care’s Medication Management Form

Food and Drug Administration.