Medications and the Mature Adult
Many adults I work with complain about the quantity of medications their physicians prescribe. Admittedly, many take five to ten different medications on any given day. Many previously healthy individuals now diagnosed with a chronic disease requiring medications say they do not want to take pills or become “pill poppers”. Refusing to take medications becomes an issue especially when the medications prescribed are important to maintaining your physical and mental health.
The question older adults forget to ask is how did they get in this situation in the first place? It could be heredity but more likely it is because you did a poor job of taking care of your physical or mental health. You made the choice to NOT exercise, to NOT eat healthy, to NOT manage your weight and now find yourself in a situation of concern with a health diagnosis that surprises you.
Some individuals become stubborn and refuse to take medications. Others prefer a more holistic approach which eliminates taking prescribed medications that are really needed. However the choice to take or not take medications relies solely with the individual. If you choose not to take medications are you willing to choose to participate in activities like losing weight and exercise that might negate the need to take the medications? Every action is a choice.
Individuals make bad choices every day. How do you think you arrived at the current situation where taking medication is the only way to ensure your health does not become worse and doing so will allow you to maintain your current lifestyle?
Medication compliance, taking medications as prescribed and at appropriate times, is extremely important. For adults with short term memory loss remembering to take medications can be difficult if not impossible. Sometimes a calendar or check off system can be implemented to allow the individual to remain independent and to ensure that medications are taken. Other times a care advocate can implement systems to make sure medications are available including a system of administration. Other times family members can assist.
But those of you reading this article may tell me, you are not sure that you need help or that you want anyone minding your business. There comes a time for all of us that we need to use the intelligence God gave us and realize that if we are to remain independent we do need an advocate, a family member or a system to help us.
Not taking medications as prescribed results in unnecessary trips to the emergency room. Medication non-compliance, or not taking medications properly, is one of the top causes of accidental death in the United States especially for older adults. And if there are frequent trips to hospital emergency rooms, your ability to take care of yourself will be questioned. Is this another situation in which you wish to find yourself?
On another note, if you are seeing more than one physician, it is important to provide information to each physician about all the medications taken so there are no negative drug interactions. Each physician must know what the other physician is prescribing. The easiest way to make sure your doctor knows what medications you are taking is to make a written list of medications and over the counter products used and to place this list in a purse or wallet. When you visit the doctor, the office can make a copy for their files. In some cases, frequent trips to the doctor’s office are necessary for medication monitoring.
The importance of medication compliance in maintaining the health of mature adults cannot be stressed enough. Often, balancing the cost of an advocate, organizer or paid caregiver to help maintain your long term health is a wise consideration. If medications are not being taken properly it is also very possible that you are inattentive to other important aspects of your daily life.
© 2012, 2013 Pamela D. Wilson. All rights reserved.