While many people may think they are following the rules when it comes to their prescriptions, medication adherence mistakes happen frequently. In fact, more than 125,000 people die each year due to prescription medication non-adherence, twice the number killed in car accidents. These mistakes include:
- Failure to fill or refill a prescription
- Missing one or multiple doses
- Taking the wrong medication
- Taking more medication than prescribed
- Prematurely discontinuing medication
- Improper use of devices such as inhalers or syringes
- Taking expired, damaged, or improperly stored medications
Medication adherence can be a particularly big issue among older adults who take multiple prescription drugs. However, evidence suggests that, with the proper motivation, education, and support, elders can overcome many barriers to medication adherence. The following are a number of strategies to assist with common causes of medication non-adherence.
Memory Loss: A major issue when it comes to medication adherence among elderly individuals is memory loss. People with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease may forget to take their medications or even take multiple doses, having forgotten that they took the medication earlier. Strategy: Make taking medication a part of another daily routine, using pill dispensers and/or charts to stay organized.
Difficulty Swallowing Pills: Some older adults have difficulty swallowing, and may attempt to chew or crush pills, causing long-acting medications to be released into the body too quickly. Strategy: Talk to the person’s doctor or pharmacist to find out if the medicine is available in a liquid or smaller tablet form that is easier to swallow.
Transportation Issues: Some elderly individuals may be homebound or are unable to drive or easily access transportation and cannot regularly pick up prescriptions. Strategy: Ask the pharmacy about mail order prescriptions that can be delivered to the home, or hire an in-home caregiver, like those at Live Free Home Health Care, to provide transportation to the pharmacy, as well as doctors’ appointments and other outings.
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Taking medication the right way is vital to an elderly person’s health. If you have a loved one who is experiencing one of these obstacles or any other hindrance in adhering to medications, contact the care experts at Live Free Home Health Care in Central New Hampshire at 603-217-0149. We can help you create medication management strategies for success!