Elderly patients, as a whole, are well-known for having problems with medication compliance. Some patients forget to pick up their prescriptions or take those medications on time, while others refuse essential drugs due to what they see as intolerable side effects. This already-bad situation is only compounded by the fact that most elderly patients are on multiple medications.
Doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and others in the healthcare industry must do their part to help ensure that older patients take essential medications as prescribed. That means taking advantage of all the medication compliance tools modern medicine and technology have put at their disposal.
What Are Medication Compliance Tools?
Medication compliance tools are designed to help patients and their caregivers stay on top of often complex schedules. The tools themselves range in complexity from basic reminder charts and pill cards for home use to point of care medication dispensing equipment for hospitals. Put together, these tools form a system that makes it easy for elderly patients to remember when they need to take their pills.
The Best Solution for Healthcare Facilities
By far the most effective medication compliance tool for in-hospital care is the digital dispenser. Digital medication dispensers include features like audio and visual alarms, informational displays, and security locks in addition to automatic dispensing. This helps to prevent errors and keep sensitive medications secure.
Common Examples of Compliance Tools for Home Use
Doctors and nurses working in hospitals and healthcare clinics can only do so much to ensure medication compliance. Once the patient returns home, he or she will be left to figure it out alone or require the help of a caregiver. Suggesting or providing the right compliance tools for home use can make this easier.
Reminder Charts and Pill Cards
The most obvious example of a low-tech medication compliance tool is the reminder chart. Doctors or caregivers often give patients these charts and help them fill out personalized information about their medications, but those who want to print out their own can also find them on the FDA’s website. The reminder chart will offer patients information about when they need to take medications, how much of them to take, and how to take them. Pill cards offer much of the same information but in a smaller format to make them more portable.
Pill organizers are small boxes separated into seven compartments for each day of the week. Some also feature different containers for each time of day. Patients can fill the organizers at the beginning of each week and use them to ensure they are keeping up with all medications.
Today, there’s an app for everything, and that includes medication adherence. There are plenty of options to choose from. Healthcare providers should choose an app that provides scheduled notifications or reminders, refill alerts, drug interaction warnings, adherence logging, quantity tracking, and patient education. Suggest those apps that look most effective to patients to improve compliance.
The Bottom Line
Medication non-compliance is a serious issue among elderly patients. It’s not just up to the patients to keep on top of complex medication schedules, though. Healthcare providers and caregivers must also do what they can to ensure the patient has everything he or she needs to make the process easier.