Overcoming Medication Adherence Obstacles

Overcoming Medication Adherence Obstacles

January 4, 2013 - 10:30 am

More than 125,000 people die each year due to prescription medication non-adherence, twice the number killed in car accidents. Some common medication management 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

Proper medication adherence can be a particularly big problem among older adults who take multiple prescription and over-the-counter 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. Tip: 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. Tip: 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.

Vision Problems: A senior with impaired vision may find it difficult to read the directions on a pill bottle or distinguish between pills, leading to possible incorrect dosage and use. Tip: Request medication labels in a large print size or purchase a pill bottle magnifier. Electronic devices are also available, such as “talking pill bottles,” which play recorded messages of the instructions on the pill bottle.

Income: Seniors who can’t afford medications may split pills, cut back the dose, or go without for long stretches of time. Tip: Ask the pharmacy about discount programs or if a generic drug or another brand in the same drug class is available at a lower cost.

If you know a senior who has experienced these medication obstacles, in-home care assistance can help keep him or her on track. Contact Partners in HealthCare in the Orlando, FL area to learn more about proper medication management and to discuss your home care options.

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