medication management

Why You Should Prevent Medication Non-Compliance in Seniors

Only 23 percent of U.S. adults are over 60 years old, but they have the highest prescription drug use in the country. According to the CDC, 83.6 percent of people aged 60 to 79 have at least one prescription drug they’re regularly taking, and as much as 34.5 percent of this population has five or more pills to take daily.

Though seniors are the biggest consumers in the healthcare industry, they are also the most likely to not comply with a medication calendar. Hospital readmissions are often due to non-adherence. Some are due to the adverse effects of combining certain medications. Numerous side effects can come from consuming the wrong medicine, from confusion and hallucinations to organ failure and even fatality.

Why do some types of medication have adverse effects?

Seniors might take over-the-counter medicines in conjunction with their prescription drugs. Sometimes, these combinations have no harmful effects, but this is not always the case.

Prescription drug effects can also intensify when combined with particular types of food or certain dietary herbs and supplements. For instance, if you take Warfarin to prevent stroke or a heart attack, you should not take ginkgo supplements. 

Doing so would increase the chances of bleeding. It is essential to clear the over-the-counter medication with a physician before use and to have a medication log to note the things you can and cannot consume.

Why do seniors take the wrong medication?

There could be several reasons why seniors become non-compliant. For one, they might have inadequate communication with their doctors and misunderstand instructions. Another possibility is a loss in translation when the senior changes healthcare providers.

If the senior lives in a nursing home, understaffing could also be a reason for incorrect doses. When a caregiver has to administer multiple medication types to different patients, it can be challenging to stay on track 100 percent of the time.

Why do seniors fail to stick to a medication schedule?

Aside from incorrect communication between healthcare providers and patients, there could be other reasons for non-compliance. For one, seniors might not be financially capable of staying on a treatment plan that requires them to purchase multiple prescription drugs.

The instructions might also be too complicated for them to follow, or they might not apprehend the benefits of taking a particular drug. Alternatively, they might not realize the adverse effects of not completing their course.

What methods prevent seniors from taking the wrong medications?

When a healthcare provider assigns medicines for a senior to take, he must consider the patient’s vision, hand strength, and cognition. It is easy to accommodate the patient’s limitations and ask them to purchase tools to complete their medication. 

For example, seniors with grip strength issues can use easy-access pill bottles. Printing out instructions in large type and sticking this on the bottle will also help minimize the likelihood of taking the wrong pills.  

An automated pill dispenser and a pill management app can also help them stay on their schedule. These tools can send alarms through text or phone calls. Apps can even display photos of which pills to take and notify caregivers of which bottles need refilling.


Staying on a prescription drug schedule is manageable as long as the patient has the right support and tools. To help them complete their course, they need a lot of patience and reminders, both in-person and digital, and the understanding of their loved ones and caregivers.

Help your loved ones stay healthy and strong with MedManage. Our cloud-based medication management app is an intuitive and convenient way to keep track of a patient’s medication list and schedule. Join our platform today or contact us for more details!

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