The Dangers of Medication Non-Adherence and How to Prevent Them

Medication Non-AdherenceMany of us realize that medicines can be life-saving, but many of us have also heard alarming tales about patients who have been given incorrect medication – either as a consequence of an issue with the doctor or pharmacy. What many people don’t think about is that there is a hidden threat even when we get the proper medicine — the risk of medication non-adherence.

As with driving down the wrong side of the road, using a prescription improperly is dangerous. In fact, it is more so — as many as 125,000 individuals die every year due to prescription medication non-adherence, double the number who perish in automobile accidents. And although many people might think they are following the rules when it comes to their medications, medication adherence issues take place frequently. These mistakes include:

  • Failing to fill or replenish a prescribed drug
  • Missing one or more dosages
  • Taking the wrong medicine
  • Taking more medication than prescribed
  • Prematurely stopping medication
  • Improper use of equipment such as inhalers or syringes
  • Taking expired, damaged, or incorrectly stored medications

Medication adherence can be a particularly big problem among the elderly who take a variety of prescription medications. However, research shows that, with the proper motivation, knowledge, and support, elders can break through many barriers to medication adherence. The following are several strategies to help with typical causes of medication non-adherence.

Memory Loss: A leading issue when it comes to medication adherence among older individuals is loss of memory. People with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease might forget to take their medications or even take multiple doses, having forgotten that they took the medication previously.

Strategy: Make taking medication part of an everyday habit, using pill dispensers and/or charts to stay organized.

Difficulty Swallowing Pills: Some older adults have difficulty swallowing, and might attempt to chew up or crush medicines, causing long-acting drugs to be released into the body too fast.

Strategy: Talk to the older adult’s physician or pharmacist to determine if the medicine is offered in a liquid or smaller tablet form that is less difficult to swallow.

Issues with Transportation: Some elderly individuals may be homebound or are not able to drive or easily access transportation and cannot consistently pick up prescriptions.

Strategy: Ask the drug store about mail order prescriptions that can be sent to the home, or hire an in-home caregiver, like those at Live Well at Home, to provide transportation to the pharmacy, as well as doctors’ appointments and other outings.

Taking prescription medications the right way is imperative to your senior loved one’s health. Taking prescription medications incorrectly is hazardous. If you have a loved one who is struggling with one of these barriers or any other hindrance in adhering to medications, contact the senior care Sacramento experts at Live Well at Home today at 916-459-3220. We can help you create medication management strategies for success!

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