Supporting Your Loved One With Their Medication Plan

Of the caregivers surveyed by CAN, 70% of those responding shared that they were responsible for managing their loved one’s medication. Medication management can include everything from getting prescriptions filled/refilled by the pharmacist, making sure your loved one takes their medication as prescribed, communicating with their health care providers about their medications and side effects, and disposing of unused medications.

While some individuals living with mental or emotional health issues may need family or friends to help manage their medications, others may not. The following information will help you whether you’re managing your loved one’s medications or supporting your loved one in managing medications themselves.

What to Know and How to Discuss with Your Loved One

Medications prescribed to treat mental and emotional health issues can have particularly strong side effects. Connected to side effects, it is important to note any changes in mood or personality. Ways to start a conversation on this topic with your loved one on this topic may include:
  • Ask your loved one how they’ve been feeling since starting the medication.
    • Example: You’ve been on your medication for about a month now. How have you been feeling?
  • Ask if they have discussed any additional symptoms they’ve experienced since starting the medication to their doctor.
    • Example: You mentioned feeling nauseous after taking your new medication. Has that changed? Have you brought that up to your doctor?
Medications may come with special instructions on how and when to take them, and things they should avoid – food, other medications – while on the medication. Ways to start a conversation on this topic with your loved one on this topic may include:
  • Ask if they know when the medication needs to be taken.
    • Example: Do you need to take your medication when you get up in the morning? Before you go to bed?
  • Ask if their medication needs to be taken with food.
    • Example: Does your medication need to be taken with breakfast/lunch/dinner?
  • Ask if they know of any substances – food, other drugs – they should avoid while taking this medication.
    • Example: Did the doctor or pharmacist talk to you about any food or other medications – including anything over the counter – that may cause a reaction with this medication?
Although your loved one may be on the same medication for a long period of time, the dosage of this medication may change frequently throughout their treatment. This information is also useful in making sure old medications are removed and disposed of properly to avoid medication mishaps. Ways to start a conversation on this topic with your loved one on this topic may include:
  • Ask if the dosage of their medication has changed recently.
    • Example: Has the doctor changed your prescription recently?
There are many reasons your loved one may miss a dose of their medication – maybe they forgot to take it, they ran out of medication before getting a refill, they didn’t take it to avoid side effects, etc. Ways to start a conversation on this topic with your loved one may include:
  • Ask if they have missed a dose of medication.
    • Example: Have you forgotten to take your medication recently?
  • If they have missed a dose of medication, ask if there was a specific reason they missed a dose of medication.
    • Example: Did you just forget to take your medication? Was there another reason you didn’t take it?
  • Ask if there are special instructions they are to follow if they miss a dose of their medication.
    • Example: Have you talked to your doctor about what to do if you forget to take your medication?
  • If they have missed a dose of medication, ask if they discussed this with their doctor.
    • Example: Did you let your doctor know you didn’t take your medication last Tuesday?

What You Can Do When Your Loved One Does Not Wish for You To Be Involved

Your loved one may not wish for you to be involved in any way with their medication regimen. While your loved one’s wishes should be respected by both you and their health care providers, you are always able to share information and concerns with their health care providers. Their health care provider may provide information involving their medication should the following apply:

  1. They believe it is in the best interest of your loved one’s care and is relevant to your role in their care.
  2. They believe your loved one is at risk to harm themselves or others and you may be able to help negate this risk.

Another way you may support your loved one if not directly involved in their medication regime is provide the following Medication Guide as tool they can use themselves to keep track their medications.

Medication Guide (Click here to download)

Medication Record As of: Birth Date:
Patient Name:
Emergency Contact 1: Phone:
Emergency Contact 2: Phone:


Name of Drug Medication 1 Medication 2 Medication 3



OTC (Over-the-Counter)

Has this medication been previously prescribed
What the medication is treating
What medication looks like
Name of prescriber
Name of pharmacy that filled prescription
Date Started
Date Stopped


Medication 1 Medication 2 Medication 3
If previously prescribed, what was the dose
How and when to take medication
What not to do when taking medication
Instructions on what to do when a dosage is missed
Missed dosages and when reported to doctor

Side Effects

Medication 1 Medication 2 Medication 3
Common side effects of medication
Side effects I’ve experienced and when reported to doctor


Type Date of Last Dose


Food and drug allergies and other significant reactions.
Drug Reaction
Recent medications that caused problems or didn’t work.
Drug Problem

Medical Team

Primary Care Doctor Name:
Specialist 1 Name:
Specialist 2 Name:
Pharmacy Name: