Reasons for Non-Adherence to Medication Regimens and Tips to Help

Elderly woman and her home healthcare nurse.

Medications can both enhance and save lives, but there is a hidden risk that can produce dire consequences — the threat of medication non-adherence. Studies show that approximately 125,000 people die each year due to prescription medication non-adherence, a number that’s twice as large as those who die from car accidents. Here are a few potential reasons for non-adherence to medication in older adults:

  • Failing to fill a prescription for a recommended medicine 
  • Omitting at least one dose
  • Taking the wrong medicine
  • Taking too much of a prescribed medication 
  • Stopping a medication too soon
  • Incorrect use of medical equipment such as inhalers and syringes
  • Taking damaged, expired, or improperly stored medicines

Medication non-adherence can be especially hazardous among older individuals, many of whom take multiple prescription medications. However, research shows that with the proper knowledge, motivation, and support, older individuals can overcome the hurdles to medication non-adherence. As a top-rated provider of home and respite care in Nashville, TN and nearby areas, we’ve highlighted some of the challenges in sticking to a prescribed medication plan, and tips to tackle them:

Memory Problems: A leading challenge in medication adherence among older individuals is loss of memory. Those with dementia or Alzheimer’s might forget to take their meds or may even take multiple doses, having forgotten that they had taken a dose previously. 

Tip: Make taking medicines a part of an already-established, everyday habit, utilizing medication dispensers and/or charts to stay organized.

Swallowing Problems: Some seniors struggle with swallowing pills, and as a result, may try to chew or crush medications, causing long-acting medicine to be released into the body too swiftly. 

Tip: Ask the physician or pharmacist if the medication is available in a liquid or small pill form that is simpler to swallow.

Accessibility Problems: Many seniors have trouble with transportation and/or ambulation, making it difficult to get to the pharmacy to pick up prescriptions and refills.  

Tip: Look into mail order medicines that are shipped to the home, or contact Stay Home Care for assistance.

Taking prescription medicines properly is fundamental to seniors’ health. For help in making certain a senior you know is following physician’s orders, contact Stay Home Care, a provider of in-home respite care in Nashville, Westmoreland, Murfreesboro, Ashland, and throughout the nearby areas. We’re available any time through our online contact form or over the phone at 615-964-7726.