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  • Ann Hollander

Is Dad taking his meds "as directed?"


Did you know that nearly half of adults taking prescription medications for a chronic condition make errors in taking their meds? The most common problem areas:

  • Memory. Forgetting to take a medication

  • Organization. Failing to order a refill in time and running out

  • Convenience. Being away from home and missing dose(s)

  • Side effects. Experiencing unpleasant reactions

  • Cost. Difficulty affording the drug

Any deviation from what's prescribed is risky. This is especially true for older adults in fragile health. Here's what you can do to support your loved one in following the doctor's orders.

  • Develop and monitor routines. A multiday pillbox may be all that's necessary to resolve memory issues. Bring one as a present, along with your promise to keep the box filled and refills ordered on time. If more active reminders are needed, consider a "talking" automated pill dispenser or an app that sends an alert when a dose is needed.

  • Collaborate with the doctor. When you visit your relative's primary care doctor, bring in every prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drug being taken. Review the purpose of each drug. Are all of them still needed? Can the treatment be simplified? Perhaps there are alternatives that involve fewer doses.

  • Report problem side effects. Provide details about side effects that you and/or your relative have noticed. Simple changes in diet or the time a med is taken may help.

  • Address cost issues. Let the doctor know if cost is a problem. A generic version may be available. Or the doctor may have samples. Price shop among local stores for prescription and OTC drugs. Consider mail order.

  • Connect with the pharmacy. The pharmacist can provide easy-off lids, large print on labels, and drug information. They can often help clarify doctor's orders and offer advice concerning side effects.

Are you worried about medication problems?

As the North Shore and Chicago experts in family caregiving, we at Options for Aging counsel families to be open minded and not assume it's just stubbornness if an older relative does not take meds as directed. The reasons might surprise you. And they are often easy to fix. Give us a call at 847-868-1445. Let's talk.

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