Medication nonadherence is the new “epidemic” that affects millions of older adults around the world. In the US alone, about three of four Americans don’t take their medications as prescribed, according to the American Heart Association. The rate of nonadherence is startlingly over 50% that it’s considered by some as “America’s other drug problem.” 

Several factors lead to poor medication adherence. Some of the most cited are: 

  • The cost of medications

  • Personal misconceptions and mistrust

  • Fear, forgetfulness, and worry

Both seniors and their families must be properly educated about medication management. If ill members of the family keep missing their meds, it can result in health complications, which can be fatal.

Ways to Address Medication Nonadherence

Fortunately, healthcare providers responded to this growing concern promptly by establishing countermeasures to improve medication management. Today, we’ll be looking into some of them.

1. Identifying the underlying cause

The first step to good medication management is to determine what causes a loved one to miss medications. Is it poor memory? Intolerance to side effects? Cost? Or misconceptions? In many cases, it will be a combination of two or more of these factors. 

By revealing the root cause of the problem, you’ll know the best solution to the problem. Any effort in resolving the issue that doesn’t address the underlying causes is futile. 

2. Find solutions based on the cause

Now that you’ve uncovered the primary reasons for noncompliance, you can create viable solutions aimed to eliminate the problem. 

If it’s due to forgetfulness, you can help set reminders to ensure your loved one gets notified of the exact time to take their meds. If it’s because they can’t tolerate the side effects, you can ask the physician for alternatives. Reducing dosage may be possible. If loved ones skip their meds because they can’t afford them, ask advice from a physician on what options are available. They may be able to prescribe more affordable generic medications.

The solution should focus on mitigating the source of the concern rather than alleviating symptoms. 

3. Consider medication reminder systems

Several instances of missed medications are due to forgetfulness. Whether it’s intentional or not, the medication schedule can easily slip the mind if loved ones get busy with chores or their health conditions take their attention away. As it’s known, meds become less effective if they’re not taken on time or as prescribed.

Before things get out of hand, consider signing up for a medication reminder system. Even without any caregiver’s help, your loved one receives a call or text message when it’s time for their meds. It lessens the risk of missed medications. 

Many pharmaceutical businesses also provide additional support to improve adherence through personalized medication packaging, refill reminder systems, and online delivery. If the elder member of the family lives alone, it helps if they sign up for these services.

4. Track medication progress

How will you know if your loved one is on track with their care plan? Measure their progress. Through monitoring, you can determine if prescriptions are followed and medications are taken consistently.

If you’re a family caregiver, record the name of the meds your senior parent takes, what they are for, the dosage, and the frequency of taking them. A simple system like this written on paper is significantly helpful. You get insight into what area of medication management needs to be improved.

Why Is Medication Adherence Important?

For individuals who depend on medications to maintain their health or treat a condition, adherence is key. However, as it is now, many don’t comply with prescriptions. If this persists, it can be lethal. Taking medications consistently is critical to help manage different chronic conditions. So, if you notice that your loved one keeps skipping their meds, it’s time to intervene. 

Photo by Myriam Zilles on Unsplash