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Medication Mastery: The Importance of Medication Management

Did you know that 55% of older adults do not take their medications as prescribed and 750 older adults are hospitalized every day in the U.S. due to serious side effects from medications? 

Numerous prescriptions and over-the-counter medications, frequent prescription changes, and multiple prescribing physicians contribute to the complexity of managing medications and can lead to mistakes, dangerous side effects, and even render the medication ineffective.

Medication management is particularly important for older adults. Physiological changes that occur with aging can alter the way medications are absorbed, metabolized, and excreted from the body, and changes in physical or cognitive health can lead to the inability to take medications as prescribed. This is complicated even further by the fact that 80% of older adults take 2 drugs or more, with most taking over 4 medications. 

Reasons Why Medications Aren’t Taken

There are many reasons why someone does not take medications as prescribed and in order to find a solution, it’s important to understand the reason.  Common reasons include:

  • Misunderstanding or mistrust of the medication purpose and need

  • Fear of side effects or medication dependency 

  • Vision impairments that make it difficult to read pill bottles, differentiate between pills, or fill syringes

  • Dexterity issues that limit the ability to open bottles hard or administer eye drops

  • Swallowing difficulties or a bitter medication taste 

  • Memory and cognition problems such as forgetting to take a medication, when to take it, to order or pick it up from the pharmacy, or that it was already taken and taking it again 

  • Transportation challenges that impact the ability to get to the pharmacy

  • Cost and the inability to afford the medication

Strategies to Improve Medication Adherence

Improving medication adherence requires a comprehensive approach that may include:

  1. Use a Medication List. Keep track of medications and supplements, including doses and the purpose. 

  2. Be Informed. Ask these questions about medications from a trusted professional and read the information provided with each prescription. 

  3. Review Medications.  Whenever a new medication is ordered or changed, ask the physician or pharmacist to review all prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, and supplements being taken.  Even if there are no changes in medications, have a doctor or pharmacist review annually.

  4. Consult and Share Concerns. Ask the physician or pharmacist about changing frequency or dosage, less expensive options, alternative medications with fewer side effects, and whether the medication can be crushed or dissolved.

  5. Establish a Routine. Take medications at the same time each day and confirm the drug and dosage when taking them.  

  6. Keep Medications Visible and Accessible

  7. Use Reminders. These can be done in-person, by phone, with a pill organizer, or through an app such as Mellie.  

  8. Find the Right Pill Organizer or Packaging. There are many options such as daily, weekly, monthly, easy-to-open, color-coded, large print, automatic, or with alerts.   Ask the pharmacy if there are other packaging options such as pill packs or large print bottles

  9. Use Delivery Services.  Use an online pharmacy or your local pharmacy to deliver medications and use the same pharmacy for all medications, if possible

  10. Address Cost Concerns.  Look into patient assistance programs and review prescription coverage.

Medication management plays a pivotal role in promoting the health and well-being of older adults. By ensuring proper adherence to prescribed medications, seniors can effectively manage chronic conditions, prevent complications, and maintain a high quality of life. Implementing strategies to simplify medication regimens, provide support, and promote understanding empowers older adults to take control of their health.  

Remember, effective medication management is not just about taking pills—it's about nurturing a holistic approach to health and wellness.  Contact Mellie to learn more about our Medication Management feature as well as how we can support you as a family caregiver.  



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