When you get prescribed a course of medication, you need to follow the schedule faithfully. Whether you’re taking medicine for high cholesterol, diabetes, or another chronic condition, you need to adhere to the dose and frequency set by the doctor. Not taking medicine can cause you to fall seriously ill. Skipping a dose or taking too much at once can have disastrous effects, and unfortunately, it is common among seniors.
The Department of Health and Human Services reports that 55 percent of older people do not comply with prescription drug orders. Every year, it results in hospitalization for about 200,000 older adults. Here are common reasons seniors don’t comply with medication schedules and some tips to prevent it.
The patient has vision problems
Elders who have vision problems might not be able to read the small print on bottle labels, or they might find it difficult to distinguish between pills. Both can lead to medication misuse.
Something you can do is purchase bottles with accessible prescription labels. Some pharmacies have labels with large print and ones with braille instructions. A senior can also use a talking medication system that scans and reads out information like the drug’s name, the dosage, instructions, refill date, warnings, and more.
The patient suffers from memory loss
Alzheimer’s or dementia patients are likely to experience prescription management problems. They might forget to take the medication or forget that they had already taken a dose and end up taking multiple ones, which could cause them to overdose.
Using a pillbox could help a patient track their consumption. Computerized variants can call a number if the patient skips a dose, and Automatic dispensers release only one pill every time it is needed. Some pillboxes can sound an alarm if needed. You can also use a medication log that helps you remotely monitor their progress.
For patients with advanced dementia, you could ensure that they take their medication by having a professional in-home caregiver assist them in their daily needs.
The patient does not have resources
Often, seniors live on fixed incomes, which means they might not have enough resources to buy medication. For low-income seniors, it might mean splitting pills or taking less than the prescribed dose. It could even mean skipping medicines for long periods.
One way around this is by taking generic prescription drugs. Generics are available in pharmacies; you can ask a doctor or pharmacist if the medication prescribed has a commercially available generic variant. You could also research financial assistance programs for prescriptions. Your pharmacy or the drug manufacturer might have a discount program that can cut down on costs.
The patient has a hard time swallowing
Some people have dysphagia or difficulty swallowing. They think it’s easier to ingest crushed or broken-up tablets, but that is dangerous in some cases. Some formulas have long-acting compounds that could prematurely release when crushed, causing the patient to get sick.
Unless the doctor or pharmacist tells your loved one to chew or crush the medication, you must convince the patient to swallow the tablets whole. If they have trouble with it, you can ask your doctor if the drug comes in smaller pills or a liquid solution.
The patient is hard of hearing
If a senior is deaf, they might find it hard to hear and understand verbal instructions. As such, they might not remember the schedule or the number of pills they need to take.
Speak with your loved one about their hearing loss, and encourage them to ask questions about the instructions. If they cannot hear what the pharmacist or doctor says, encourage them to repeat what they heard. You could also inquire about hearing devices and wear these when they’re going to the doctor or the pharmacy.
There are many reasons why a senior could take the wrong doses of their medication. Helping your older loved ones complete their course means identifying the cause of mismanagement and providing them with systems or tools to address these. From pillboxes to medication logs, there are many choices to help your patient get the treatment they need.
Never skip a dose again when you use My Medication Log. Our cloud-based pill management app lets you monitor your loved one’s medication list and create alerts for when they need to take doses. Download our app today, available on Google Play and the Apple Store, or get in touch with us for more information!