ASK PETER: All You Would Like to Know About Senior Care, Dementia, and Alzheimer's Care

My mom has a hard time keeping up with her meds. How dangerous is that?

By Peter DiMaria

If your mom is taking medicine because of heart problems, the answer is that not adhering to the prescriptions increases the risk of hospitalization 500%.

February is American Heart Month. It was first observed in February 1964, when President Lyndon B. Johnson designated this to be an annual event in the United States. The objective is to lower the rate of cardiovascular disease in America.

LBJ’s initiative, together with several medical advancements seems to have been successful. The reduction in consumption of tobacco, coupled with a more healthy lifestyle is making people live longer and longer. However, heart disease continues to be a problem, mainly for those over 65 years old.

Over 80% of all heart failure patients are over 65. Over three-quarters of adults over 65 years old take at least two different medications for the heart. Three out of four of them don’t take medication as prescribed. And people who don’t take their medication accordingly have five times more risk of hospitalization.

Medication adherence may seem simple, but it is a reoccurring problem. People do not realize the real damage or consequences of non-adherence. When patients with chronic heart conditions don’t take their medication as directed, the repercussions can be severe.

Poor medication adherence takes the lives of 125,000 Americans annually, and costs the health care system nearly $300 billion a year in additional doctor visits, emergency department visits and hospitalizations.

Common Factors Affecting Heart Patients

-              Poor medication adherence;

-              Lack of care coordination among multiple doctors;

-              Fear or uncertainty of prescriptions;

-              Unintentional patient behavior, such as forgetfulness;

-              Patients’ physical or cognitive impairments;

-              Lack of transportation to fill their Rx.

Elderly Care: Tips for Heart Patients

Elderly Care: Heart Health Tips

If your mother falls into one of the categories above and you are having a hard time keeping her up to date with her meds, do consider asking for help. There are many different ways to help her to organize her medication schedule. One of them is to use a monitoring device that will remember her when to take her pills and release the right doses at the right times. All you have to do is to fill the machine with the pills and set up the schedule. If she skips a dose, you will receive a warning message, wherever you are, so you can give her a call or visit her, to make sure she is all right and taking her medicine.

However, if you think that she will have a hard time dealing with the machine, consider hiring a caregiver, a few hours a week, to help her to keep up the schedule. Besides reminding her of when to take the pills, a caregiver can also be a good company to take her out for walks or driving her to the Senior Center. That will keep her independent, living in her own home, for a longer time.

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