Community Blog

Consequences of Not Taking Your Medication Properly

By Doug Feltman

Some seniors may think that not taking medicines on schedule is a minor thing, but it is not. Poor medication compliance is a serious and expensive problem. Not taking prescribed medications regularly is estimated by The Centers for Disease Control to kill 125,000 persons in the United States each year in the form of chronic disease treatment failures. In addition, an extra $300 billion is spent on hospitalizations, emergency room visits, and doctor’s appointments. One of the major tasks of senior care is making sure that loved ones are taking their medications correctly.  At Home Helpers, we have recently seen the effects of medicine errors.  A client with late stage Alzheimer’s, was given an increased dosage of anxiety and depression medicines by his psychiatrist.  The client quickly deteriorated from a person who could walk and partake in many activities to someone almost comatose.  Only after all medicines were stopped, he did begin to revert to his previous functioning levels. 

Why do many elders not follow their doctors’ prescription instructions? The answers are many and complex. Forgetting to take medicines is a major problem for some elders, combined with the lack of understanding of the prescription’s purpose and importance. If an elder has unpleasant side effects when initially taking a medicine, they may just quit taking it rather than consulting their doctor. 

A caregiver may only be able to come over to the elder’s home on a periodic basis and does not know the extent of the non-compliance with medication. Having several prescriptions to keep track of makes the situation even more difficult. Here is an examination of some consequences of improper medication consumption.

 Increased Disease Risk

Diseases can progress dramatically if medication is not taken correctly. If an elder does not take a medication or does not take it as directed, they risk serious disease repercussions. Not taking blood pressure medicine daily at a set time can set the stage for an increased chance of stroke, kidney failure, and heart disease. Seniors taking statin-reducing medications can increase their risk of a heart attack by at least 25 percent if they quit the medications. Diseases can progress dramatically if medication is not taken correctly.

 Hospitalization

Another consequence for improper medication compliance is emergency room visits and hospitalizations. This is because an elder has either stopped taking one or more medications, increasing the progression of a disease, or is taking them out of schedule, which can lead to dangerous medication interactions.

Tips for a Consistent Medication Schedule

An in-home care professional can help reinforce these tips to support a consistent medication schedule for an elder.

  • Follow medicine directions, ask for clarification if the directions are not clear

  • Use a pill container to help remember medicines, and refill it weekly on the same day

  • Use daily habits like tooth brushing or mealtime to reinforce medication schedules

  • Stick to your medication schedule each day

An in-home caregiver can be an alternative to a senior care facility and keeps your loved one at home while still keeping consistency with their medication schedule. Contact us today to learn how you can help your elder loved one remain safe but active, through in-home care.