Medication mismanagement is a common problem among older adults, especially those over the age of 65. As we age, the chances of our medication lists growing increase to the point where we have to fit dozens of prescription bottles into a strict, daily regimen.
Medications for blood pressure, blood clots, diabetes, heart issues, infection, chronic pain, visual deficits, organ failure, and respiratory failure account for only a fraction of medications that many elderly individuals regularly consume.
Why do older adults struggle with medication management at home? No, this is not an all-inclusive question because some seniors are perfectly capable of managing their medication on their own.
So, for those who have challenges, are some reasons why:
Why Do Elderly Seniors Struggle With Medication Management at Home?
- Cognitive Decline- As adults age, the brain tissue changes and breaks down leading to cognitive deficits. This can include forgetfulness, profound memory problems, impulsivity, personality changes, decreased initiation (i.e. independently deciding to take the medication without prompts), decreased safety awareness, and decreased organizational skills.
- Visual Problems- Prescription bottles and pill capsules have demanding and tiny print that even some of the healthiest eyes can’t see without a magnifying glass. With age, our eyes change and our ability to see becomes clouded. In worse situations, such as glaucoma or cataracts, partial to complete blindness makes it impossible to safely manage one’s own medication schedule.
- Human Error- Sometimes, older adults just make a mistake because they are human. If an individual is taking 10+ types of medications daily, it’s an unfair expectation that they will manage their own medication absent of mistakes for the rest of their lives.
- Self-Management and Self-Medication– In some cases, older adults decide that they know way more than their medical doctor so they decide to take their medication in a fashion that they think better suits their routine.This could include purposefully missing doses, taking more medication than prescribed, or taking a medication that wasn’t prescribed in the first place. Oftentimes, this can lead to drug addiction, adverse side effects from missed doses, and severe medical reactions that result in hospitalizations.
- Lack of Education- Although many doctors do their very best in properly instructing their patients in safe medication use, there are a few instances where this does not take place.Older adults patients do not get well-informed about their prescription medications including consumption (with food or water), dosage, adverse side effects, allergic reactions, prescription refills, continuing or termination medication use, mixing medication with other prescription drugs or alcohol, etc.
- Lack of Help- Sadly, some older adults are simply on their own. They have no family, friends, or caregivers to turn to so they are all alone when it comes to medication management. As a result, older adults who are at risk for medication mismanagement without help frequent the hospital more so than their peers.
What is The Solution That Can Assist Elderly Seniors at Home?
Older adults and/or their caregivers who have to manage a complex number of medications and who have to battle medical or functional factors have every reason to scoff at something as basic as a Pill-Minder or a paper calendar.
Luckily, there is a relatively new product called the Philips Lifeline Automated Medication Dispensing Service that can do so much more than organize pills in a tiny box.
A Smart Pill Dispenser
Philips Lifeline Automated Medication Dispensing Service can be purchased for a monthly fee. The dispenser is not just a fancy pill-minder that sits on the counter. The system is connected to the Philips Lifeline system. So, when users or caregivers input a medication schedule, the Lifeline programs it for you to accurately provide you audio reminders about daily dosages.
Lastly, the Lifeline is connected to the telephone so that users and loved ones can contact the Lifeline associates and talk to them in person if doses are missed or if there are errors in the dispensing schedules.
Benefits To Having an Automated Smart Pill Dispenser
- Flexible Dispensing- The dispenser can hold up to 60 cups of medication and up to 6 doses per day, which is an important feature for older adults who have a complex list of prescription medication to manage. The dispenser also provides an optional, early dose feature if the user requires it in their schedule.
- Alert Notifications with Telephone Connection- The audio alert system sends out reminders about when users need to take medication, and at the touch of a button the user can access their scheduled medication.
- The system will also alert the user and caregivers about if or when medication doses are missed. Additionally, the dispenser will tell users when the dispenser requires a refill or if the dispenser is lower on battery (which is rechargeable and will provide back-up for up to 18 hours during a power outage).
- Safety Features- The dispenser is equipped with safety features that allow for users to only access medication at the right, scheduled time. This prevents overdoses or consuming the wrong medication during the wrong time of day.
A few older adults may get along just fine with medication management if they use an organized pill box, a visual calendar, or adaptive equipment or modifications that enlarge prescription print.
For those older adults who are very dependent on caregivers for assistance, who are home alone for any portion of the day, who already have a history of medication management errors, or who have cognitive deficits, the Automated Medication Dispensing Service is an optimal choice for overall safety in the home.
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