Posted on May 19 2011
Did you know that between 40% and 75% of elderly patients do not take their medications as prescribed?
While visiting my grandparents a couple weeks ago, my grandma stopped to check her medication list. She has no pill box or any visible organization method that I could see and she's up to 7 different medications now. It makes me wonder how on earth she can remember to take each medication at the right dosage, at the right time of day when she can barely remember the conversation we had an hour ago - I know I would have trouble! Here are a couple of interesting statistics:
10-25% of hospital and nursing home admissions are a result of the inability of the patient to take their medications as prescribed or directed by their doctor.
About 125,000 Americans die annually (that's a staggering 342 people every day) due to poor medication compliance
How does this happen? For many elderly patients who suffer from dementia, early Alzheimer's, or any other condition that interferes with memory, the cause is obvious: they simply forget, or don't have the capacity to remember. Others, just have too many to keep track of - many elderly patients take at least 3 different drugs per day, many of which are taken simultaneously resulting in poor usage. Some people have physical limitations that may prevent them from getting to their medication at the right time. And yes, there even those with minor conditions who believe that taking more of their medication will result in early recovery.
As many of us know, there can be serious consequences to incorrect prescription-taking. Not only can it delay recovery, but it can also seriously interfere with a person's health and well-being. Too much of a medication, too little, or an inconsistent schedule can exacerbate symptoms and even cause unpleasant side effects. So, how can this be remedied?
There are many ways that this can be fixed – or at least helped greatly. Here are a few suggestions:
Never underestimate the impact that a healthcare professional or caregiver can have on a patient. Stressing the importance of safe prescription habits and suggesting ways in which the patient can be compliant with ease can do wonders.
Keep a schedule handy. Whether it's written on your calendar, in a planner or taped somewhere in each room of the house, an easily visual schedule can help a lot – especially in situations where multiple medications are being taken.
Set your alarm. Keep an alarm set at your prescription times. Watch alarms or cell phone alarms can be particularly useful because they can easily be taken with you on the road. For those who are iPhone savvy, there is a Pill Box App that can help organize medication lists and schedule reminders for you or your loved one who needs reminding.
Utilize a pill box. Did you know that there are pill boxes out there that have alarms built in? Regular pill boxes are handy because not only do they organize your pills for you by day and time, but they also make it easy for you to travel with your medications. However, there are pill boxes that cover two steps in one – they combine the convenience of a portable pill box, with the technology of an alarm system. Some even tell you when you've missed your pill.
Location, location, location. Keep your medications in one central location at all times. By doing this, you will always know where to find them, and they will always be accessible when you need them.
Teamwork! Utilize group support – friends and relatives can help remind each other to take medications. Having a buddy to work with you always makes things easier, in my opinion.
These are the suggestions that I came up with, but if you have more feel free to share! Also, I've listed below some of our favorite medication aid products. Enjoy!