Medication Adherence and the Aging Parent

Posted by Dr. Cecilia John on March 5 2020 | 5 minute read

Medication Adherence and the Aging Parent_CaraVita Home Care

Are you really taking your medication as prescribed?

Medication adherence is defined as taking 80% or more of a prescribed medication dose, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

As our parents or family members age, they tend to take more medications because of various comorbidities, and thus their medication regimens can get even more complex. 

Medication non-adherence is very critical as it has led to increased hospitalization, adverse drug interactions, and even death. Therefore, we must understand and identify what is medication non-adherence.

Here are five common examples of medication non-adherence worth mentioning:

1. Taking the Wrong Dose of Medication

It is imperative you take your prescription as directed by your doctor. For example, someone who decides to take half of a 10 mg blood pressure medication instead of the whole tablet, has now taken 5 mg. If this continues without proper monitoring of their blood pressure, it may cause worsening in their blood pressure and may even lead to more severe conditions like a stroke.

Before you decrease the dose of any of your medications, please consult your doctor. At Pharma-Med Consulting, our pharmacists are here to help you.

2. Taking Medication fewer Times Per Day/Shortened Duration

For instance, a prescription written to be taken twice daily but instead is taken once daily or three times daily. The latter being very common in patients taking medication for pain management. This can lead to extremely bad side effects or even death.

Another common scenario is taking antibiotics for a shorter period than prescribed. This may lead to resistance by the bacteria causing worsening of the infection, which may have to be treated with a stronger antibiotic. Always remember to complete your antibiotic for the full amount of days it was prescribed.

3. Not Filling a Prescribed Medication

Do you know that, according to the CDC, approximately 1 in 5 new prescriptions are never filled? This is very critical in our elderly population as this may mean a trip to the emergency room or being readmitted back to the hospital just days after being discharged.

4. Taking Medication on an Empty Stomach Instead of with Food or Vice Versa

The presence of food in the stomach can affect the bioavailability or how much of the active drug is available in your system. Too much can increase toxicity causing increased side effects or too little reduces how effective the drug is in treating your condition. If you are not sure how you should take your medication, reach out to your physician or call a Pharma-Med Consulting pharmacist today to enroll in our concierge program.

5. Taking 2 or 3 Medications at the Same Time That May Interact with Each Other

We know the average Medicare patient takes at least five medications a day. Therefore, there is a potential for drug/drug interaction. Moreover, many of them take some type of herbal supplements or over-the-counter (OTC) products, increasing the chance of a drug/herb interaction. Usually, their primary care provider is not aware as they either do not disclose that at the time of the visit or just forgot altogether. Many herbal supplements can interact with your medication, so please check your doctor or a pharmacist consultant from Pharma-MED Consulting before you take them. Also, remember to separate your prescription medications as directed by your prescriber. 

• • •

Medication non-adherence is a public health priority. As reported in an article published in Pub-Med, it costs the US economy approximately $100 to $300 billion a year. There are many programs CMS has implemented to help reduce the likelihood of medication non-adherence. 

There are many resources available to seniors and their families to ensure medication compliance. 

  • Pharmacists at Pharma-MED Consulting make medication adherence and compliance our priority. We will identify barriers to medication adherence and then equip you with tools to overcome them effectively. We are here for you and your aging parent to simplify complex medication regimens and to serve as your medication advocate. Visit Pharma-MED Consulting’s website to begin your journey to improve medication adherence today!

  • CaraVita Home Care caregivers can remind their clients when to take their medications and let families know if they are not taking them correctly or if certain medications need to be refilled!


Cecilia JohnWritten By: Dr. Cecilia John, PharmD., Pharma-MED Consulting. Dr. John is the CEO of Pharma-MED Consulting, a pharmacist consultation firm in Grayson, Georgia. With over 15 years of experience as a pharmacist, she is passionate about improving patient health outcomes by educating patients and healthcare providers alike on ways to manage complex medication regimens.

 A Pharma-med consultant pharmacist conducts comprehensive medication reviews in-home or via the phone. Our mission is to decrease polypharmacy, adverse drug reactions, and hospital readmissions because of them. We work with local providers, assisted living communities and memory care communities, personal care homes, and, most importantly, the chronically ill patient living alone. We are available to our clients 24/7 Monday to Friday via secure text or call.



Topics: Health & Nutrition, Senior Care, Guest Blogger

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