Medication Misuse Among Seniors is More Common, and Dangerous, Than You Think

Most of us recognize that medications can be life-saving, but many of us have heard alarming reports about patients who have received 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 risk even when we get the right medication — the hazard of medication misuse.

As with driving down the wrong side of the road, medication misuse with a prescription medication is dangerous. As a matter of fact, it is more so — as many as 125,000 people die every year because of prescription medicine misuse, double the number killed in automobile accidents. And while many people may think they are following the rules when it comes to their medications, medication adherence errors take place frequently. These mistakes include:

  • Failing to fill or refill a prescribed medication
  • Missing one or more doses
  • Taking the wrong medicine
  • Taking more medication than prescribed
  • Prematurely stopping medication
  • Improper use of devices such as inhalers or syringes
  • Taking out-of-date, damaged, or improperly stored medications

Medication adherence can be an extremely significant issue among seniors who take numerous prescription medications. However, evidence suggests that, with the proper commitment, education, and assistance, elders are able to conquer many barriers to medication adherence. The following are a few approaches to help with typical roots of medication non-adherence.

  • Loss of Memory: A major issue when it comes to medication adherence among elderly individuals is loss of memory. Seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease may forget to take their medications or even take several doses, having forgotten that they took the medication earlier in the day.
    • Strategy: Make taking medication a component of an everyday regimen, using pill dispensers and/or charts to remain organized.
  • Difficulty Swallowing Pills: Some older individuals have problems with swallowing, and may attempt to chew or crush medicines, causing long-acting medicines to be released into the body too quickly.
    • Strategy: Talk to the senior’s doctor or pharmacist to see if the medication is obtainable in a liquid or smaller tablet form that is much easier to swallow.
  • Issues with Transportation: Some older individuals may be homebound or are no longer able to drive or easily access transportation and cannot consistently pick up prescriptions.
    • Strategy: Ask the drugstore about mail order prescriptions that can be sent to the home, or hire an in-home caregiver, like those at Home & Hearth Caregivers, to supply transportation to the pharmacy, as well as doctors’ appointments and other outings.

Taking prescription medications the right way is fundamental to your senior loved one’s health. Taking prescription medications the wrong way is hazardous. If you have a loved one who is encountering one of these obstacles or any other hindrance in adhering to medications, contact the care experts at Home & Hearth Caregivers in Chicago today at 708-352-4663. We can help you create medication management strategies for success!

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