Taking medicines on time is crucial for managing many chronic illnesses, yet seniors are more likely to have difficulty with this than any other age group. In fact, one study found that one in five patients over the age of 65 didn’t take their medications as prescribed.
Medications for elderly people are often more complicated than for younger people. They may be taking multiple medications for different conditions and may have trouble remembering to take them all. Some older adults find it hard to swallow pills, or they may have difficulty opening childproof containers.
Medication adherence for seniors can be improved by understanding the reasons behind why they don’t take their medications. Let us take a look at the 7 top reasons for this.
7 reasons why elderly people don't take their medications
1. They Don’t Think They Need Them
As we age, it’s natural for our bodies to change. We may not feel as well as we used to or be able to do the things we once enjoyed. Many seniors assume that these changes are a normal part of aging and don’t think they need to see a doctor or take medication for them.
2. They Forget to Take Them
Forgetting to take medications is a common problem, especially for older adults. They may forget to take their pills because they find it hard to maintain a regular routine, or they may not be able to remember if they took their pills earlier in the day.
3. They Don’t Like the Side Effects
Many older adults worry about the side effects of their medications, such as dizziness, confusion, and constipation. These side effects can be a problem, but they’re often temporary and go away after a few days. If they don’t, talk to your doctor about changing your medication.
4. They Find The Medication To Be Costly
The cost of medications can be a problem for seniors on fixed incomes. The good news is that there are programs like the National Programme for the Health Care of Elderly (NPHCE), Varistha Mediclaim Policy, etc to help seniors with the cost of their medications.
5. They Are Not Educated About Their Medications
Many seniors don’t know how to take the medications they’ve been prescribed or what the medications are for. They may also not be aware of potential drug interactions. This lack of education can lead to problems with taking their medications correctly.
6. They Have Trouble Swallowing Pills
Many older adults find it hard to swallow pills, or they may have trouble using a pill cutter. There are several ways to solve this problem. You can ask your pharmacist for a liquid form of the medication or a pill that dissolves in water. You can also get a device called a pill crusher that will grind the pill into a powder that you can take with food or drink.
7. They Don’t Feel Like Taking Them
Some older adults are reluctant to take medications because they’re afraid of becoming dependent on them. Others worry that taking medications will make them feel weak or old. It’s important to talk to your doctor about your concerns and find out if there are other options for treating your condition.
There are many challenges people face in Medication Adherence. Now that we have talked about the reasons elderly people don’t take their medication. let’s look at the harmful effects of not taking medication.
The harmful effects of not taking medications as prescribed
Not taking your medications or skipping doses can have dangerous consequences. Here are some potential problems:
Your condition may worsen:
When you don’t take your medications, your chronic illness such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, etc. can worsen, and you may have to be hospitalized.
You can develop new health problems:
Medical non-adherence can lead to serious consequences. For example, if you have high blood pressure and don’t treat it properly, your arteries may slowly narrow and become damaged. This can lead to heart failure.
You may have to pay more for your healthcare:
If your condition worsens because you’re not taking your medications, you may need more medical care, longer hospital stays longer treatments, and more surgeries, which can be expensive.
It can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke:
Not taking blood pressure medication or cholesterol-lowering statins as prescribed can increase your risk for heart attack and stroke.
You may have to go on disability:
If your chronic illness gets worse because you’re not taking your medications, you may not be able to work. This can lead to lost income and difficulty paying for your medical care and other expenses. For example, if you have osteoporosis and it is left untreated, it can lead to severe bone fractures, especially in the spine and hip region which will hamper your day-to-day life
You may put yourself in critical condition which may lead to death:
In some cases, not taking your medications can be fatal. For example, if you have congestive heart failure and don’t take your diuretic (water pill), you may retain too much fluid and go into cardiac arrest.
If you’re having trouble taking your medications, talk to your doctor or pharmacist. They can help you find ways to make it easier.