Forgetting to take a medication may seem inconsequential. After all, it’s just one little pill! But, missed doses can have major consequences for short-term and long-term outcomes. Whether it’s one pill or ten, it can be difficult to figure out a successful strategy for consistency. Add in requirements of taking pills multiple times a day, at specific time intervals, and changing doses… keeping track of it all is not for the faint of heart!
It is estimated that approximately 50 percent of medications prescribed for chronic illness are not taken as prescribed, and missed doses contribute to this concerning statistic. When people don’t take their prescribed medications properly, either by dosage or consistency, emergency department visits and hospital stays increase with poorer outcomes.
The Importance of Consistency
Taking medication consistently allows a build-up in the body toward a “steady state.” This steady state means that the amount of medication going into your body (absorption) is approximately equal to the amount going out (through metabolism and excretion). When the steady state of medicines in the body is disrupted, it can have negative effects on the body. In the same way, some side-effects that are present while starting a medication gradually fade away once the body reaches and maintains steady state. Missed doses can contribute to ongoing side effects or even withdrawal symptoms.
Reasons for Missed Doses
There are a variety of reasons why patients fail to take medications exactly as their doctor prescribed. Some may prefer the idea of natural solutions; others don’t like the daily reminder of being sick. Often patients will begin to feel better and stop taking medication under the assumption that they’re no longer ill. This is especially concerning for patients taking medication to deal with chronic issues like high blood pressure and heart disease. With busy lifestyles distraction and overwhelm can waylay even the best intentions.
For aging adults, there can be additional challenges to medication adherence beyond the usual distractions of the day or the desire to forget that they’re even sick. Loss of sight, memory problems, confusion over instructions, and filling complicated pill boxes can all contribute to poor adherence. As a result, many patients will just give up trying to follow their doctor’s instructions.
Making Adherence Easier
There are a number of solutions to make keeping track of medication compliance easier:
- Keep a list. Maintaining a paper or digital list makes it easy to double-check medication, dose, timing, and any updates to your prescription when you see your doctor.
- Learn about your medications. Sometimes learning a little more about your medical condition and how the medication works is enough motivation to stick to that daily habit.
- Use a pill box. Color-coded daily pill boxes can help keep track of which pills to take, when to take them, and if they have been taken. Sitting down once a week to fill a pill box can be less overwhelming than finding and opening multiple bottles each day.
- Set a reminder. Program your phone with reminders for medication compliance. These can be especially helpful if timing is essential.
- Download an app. There are a lot of apps designed to act as medication lists, reminders, pill organizers, etc., in a convenient all-in-one space (on your phone!) Check your app store for different options, or start here.
- Talk with your doctor about once-a-day or extended-release options to simplify your medication routine.
Get Extra Help
Sometimes we just need a little help. Talk with a family member or a friend about your medication struggles. They may be able to help you set up your pill box property once a week or assist with programming your phone with daily reminders to take your medication with breakfast and dinner. Perhaps finding the perfect app is just what you need to take back control of your health. Caregivers can also help you keep your medication at the front of your mind with regular prompts and reminders. Regardless which strategy you choose, you’ll be glad you took those extra steps.
About Generations Home Care
Generations Home Care personalized in-home care and support services help those recovering from illness, injury, or surgery, living with a chronic disease, or dealing with the natural process of aging. We help people live a fuller, healthier, and independent life.
Our caregivers are trained in the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommended COVID-19 safety precautions. We offer levels of care ranging from companionship, to respite for the primary family caregiver, to homemaking services, to assistance with activities of daily living, to Alzheimer’s and dementia care. Generations Home Care takes a holistic approach and emphasizes a consistent, client-centered plan of care.
Our Specialty Services Include:
- Rehab or hospital-to-home programs for safe discharge.
- Short-term post-operative care during recovery periods.
- Non-medical life management services for people with chronic conditions.
- Veteran’s connection to care program.
- Live-in services and couples care.
If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you, contact us today at 602-595-HOME (4663) or by filling out the contact form on our website.