According to the National Institute on Aging and the Federal Drug Administration, seniors consume more prescription and over-the-counter medicines than any other age group. Many have a number of long-term chronic diseases and/or disabilities, making it necessary to need a number of different drugs.
Unfortunately, many seniors have difficulties managing their medications. It is easy to forget a dose here and there. Some seniors cut pills in half or even forego taking their medication to save money. These decisions can result in serious health problems to the individual; but they also contribute to overall rising healthcare costs, hospitalizations, and avoidable hospital readmissions.
Medication management training is an important part of overall accountable care. Here are some tips to improve patient medication management:
- Weekly pill organizer: Medicine organizers are a useful tool and reminder for seniors who take multiple medications daily.
- Dosing schedule: A hand-written or computer-generated spreadsheet to keep track of current medications is useful for the patient, caregiver, physicians, and other healthcare professionals involved in care.
- Read labels carefully: Check to make sure that dosages have not changed and expiration dates are current.
- Electronic pill reminder: A slightly more expensive alternative is an electronic reminder. Several different kinds are available that enable reminders for medications and dosage instructions.
- Ask for help: Patients may need to ask for reminders from a reliable caregiver or family member to help them stay on track.
Medication management is not only important to the health and well-being of patients; it is integral in the communication process across the healthcare continuum, and ultimately a driver in the reduction of overall healthcare costs.