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Medication Management and Seniors

Medication Management and Seniors

(Portions reprinted with permission from PCMAnetwork.com)

With the number of medications that seniors are prescribed on average, it is not surprising that many patients are overwhelmed, which can easily lead to confusion and nonadherence.

According to the World Health Organization, 50% of patients with chronic diseases do not take their medications as prescribed. In addition, it is estimated that 10% of hospital admissions and 23% of nursing home admissions are due to the same problem. More shockingly, approximately 125,000 people with treatable ailments die each year in the United States because of medication nonadherence.

There are many reasons why people do not take their medications as prescribed. However, there are methods for helping seniors better manage their medication.

Reasons for Medication Non-Adherence
A common reason given for not taking medication is forgetfulness. At least a quarter of people on a chronic medication report that they forget to take or refill their medications.

Another reason people say they do not take medication as prescribed is transportation challenges. These obstacles may make it difficult or impossible for seniors to pick up their medications from the pharmacy. Elderly patients and those with debilitating diseases often have the most trouble getting their medications due to their physical limitations or inability to drive.

Because the cost of medications has skyrocketed in the last few years, some patients have become nonadherent due to financial limitations.

The last barrier to overcome when discussing nonadherence is the perception of need. Almost 60% of patients stop taking medication when they feel better, especially when it comes to taking antibiotics. A quarter of patients report they stop taking medication because they did not notice an improvement in their health. 

Helping Patients Manage Medications Better

How can physicians, pharmacists and other healthcare providers combat these causes of medication mismanagement? There are several activities that can help senior patients stay more compliant:

  • When prescribing a medication, suggest linking taking that medication to an activity such as eating a meal or going to bed. 
  • Recommend a pharmacy that will blister pack medication so patients can easily determine if they took a specific medication each day. 
  • If you are aware that a patient faces transportation barriers, remind them of the availability of online pharmacies and local drugstores that provide delivery services. 
  • When appropriate, prescribe generic alternatives to brand-name medications. For high-cost medications, consider providing your patients with contact information for the manufacturer, who may be able to offset the cost through discount programs.
  • Ensure that patients receive easy-to-understand written instructions for their prescriptions, including information on when it is appropriate to stop taking the medication.

Check out the full blog post about Medication Management on the PCMA website.

Your local Oasis Senior Advisor wants to be your trusted partner as you serve your senior patients.  Oasis has a wide network of referral partners to assist you and the older adults you treat. To learn more about how Oasis can assist your patients with medication management, and other services, call 888-455-5838.