Prescription medications are meant to help heal us, relieve pain or other problematic symptoms, or manage chronic conditions, but did you know they also account for well over 100,000 deaths and 10% of all hospitalizations each year in older adults? That is, when they’re taken incorrectly – which startlingly, occurs as frequently as 50% of the time. With statistics such as these, what exactly are the reasons seniors are reluctant to take medications as prescribed – and how can we, as caregivers help? The Phoenix home care experts at Nightingale Homecare have answers to both of these questions!
Top Reasons for Senior Medication Mismanagement:
- Cost. While Medicare and supplemental insurance plans help with medication costs, there are a number of exclusions, and some older adults are either unwilling or unable to cover costs out-of-pocket. And with the typical senior taking anywhere from 14 – 18 different medications, it’s easy to see how cost quickly adds up! Seniors may try to ration medications by less than what’s been prescribed, to avoid having to pay for refills as frequently. And at times, a senior may feel as though the medication isn’t that helpful anyway, and decides to simply forego the doctor’s orders.
- How you can help: Remind the senior of the importance of taking medications exactly as prescribed. Talk with his or her medical team to make sure they’re aware of the situation, and to see if a lower cost generic version of the medication is an option. You can also look into the Social Security program, “Extra Help with Medicare Prescription Drug Costs” to see if your loved one qualifies for additional assistance.
- Feeling healthy. This is an all-too-common scenario: a senior is prescribed a medication that’s so effective, he or she feels better, and therefore assumes it’s ok to stop taking it. However, since many medications are preventative in nature, and are used to keep a condition from worsening, it’s imperative that they be taken to avoid serious complications.
- How you can help: Again, speak with the senior’s physician so he or she is aware that medications are not being taken as prescribed. Request that the doctor talk with the older adult and share the potential risks of discontinuing meds, as this may carry more weight with the senior than hearing it from you or other well-meaning family members.
- Medication avoidance. Sometimes, older adults simply have an aversion to taking any kind of medication. They may prefer a more natural approach to health care, such as changing their diet or taking over-the-counter herbal supplements. Taking prescriptions may also provide a daily, unwanted reminder of their health issues.
- How you can help: A healthy diet should certainly be encouraged, but in tandem with doctors’ recommendations; and supplements should never be taken without first consulting a physician. Having a Nightingale Homecare nurse talk with the senior can be a great first step to overcoming barriers and in helping him or her to understand the risks vs. benefits of taking prescribed medications.
If your senior loved one struggles with medications for any reason, give us a call at (602) 504-1555 to speak with a member of our Phoenix home care team. We can help transport and accompany seniors to doctor visits to help bring resolution, pick up prescriptions, and provide medication management services to help older adults stay healthy and well. Contact us to learn more!