All of us realize that medications can save lives, but most of us have heard frightening reports about patients who have received incorrect medications – either because of an issue with the health care provider or pharmacy. What many people don’t think about is that there is another danger even when we get the right medication — the hazard of improper medication management.
Comparable to driving down the wrong side of the road, taking a medication improperly is dangerous. In fact, it is more so — 125,000 people die every year attributable to prescription medication non-adherence, two times the number killed in auto accidents. While many people may think they are following the rules when it comes to their medications, medication adherence mistakes occur frequently. These mistakes include:
- Failing to fill or refill a prescription
- Missing one or more doses
- Taking the incorrect medication
- Taking more medication than prescribed
- Prematurely discontinuing medication
- Inappropriate use of items such as inhalers or syringes
- Taking outdated, damaged, or improperly stored medications
Medication management can easily be a significant issue among older adults who take a variety of prescription meds. However, research shows that, with the proper commitment, knowledge, and assistance, seniors can break through many barriers to medication adherence. The following are several tactics to help with some of the most typical causes of medication non-adherence.
Memory Loss: A leading issue when it comes to medication adherence among older individuals is memory loss. Those with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease may forget to take their medications or even take several doses, having forgotten that they took the medication earlier on.
Strategy: Make taking medication a component of another everyday regimen, using pill dispensers and/or charts to keep organized.
Complications with Swallowing Pills: Some seniors have problems with swallowing, and might attempt to chew or crush pills, triggering long-acting medicines to be released into the body too rapidly.
Strategy: Talk to the person’s medical practitioner or pharmacist to find out if the medication is offered in a liquid or smaller pill form that is less difficult to swallow.
Transportation Issues: Some elderly individuals may be homebound or are unable to drive or easily access transportation and cannot consistently pick up prescriptions.
Strategy: Ask the pharmacy about mail order prescriptions that can be sent to the home, or hire an in-home caregiver, like those at Visiting Angels, to provide transportation to the pharmacy, as well as doctors’ appointments and other outings.
Taking prescription medications the proper way is imperative to your senior loved one’s health. If you have a loved one who is struggling with one of these obstacles or any other hindrance in adhering to medications, contact us today . We can help you create medication management strategies for success as well as support many other elder care needs in Santa Clara County or the surrounding areas.