Edi was not taking her Aricept and we were asked to help find a solution. We worked one-on-one with Edi to find a weekly exchange system that she would accept and she is now taking her Aricept and doing much better.
Not adhering to a well-designed drug regimen can cost you your health and independence. It is proven that people with congestive heart failure experience more hospital admissions when they don’t adhere to there medication regimen. People with Parkinson’s disease also experience declining function when not adhering to their medication regimen. Not adhering to medications when you have high blood pressure will increase your risk of stroke and not adhering to your antidepressant medication will increase your risk of decline. All of the above examples are evidence-based and improving adherence will greatly increase your chances of staying at home and remaining independent. But what can you do to adhere to your medication regimen especially when your regimen is complex?
Develop a routine- Simply by developing a routine that has triggers to remind you to take your medication can be a big help. Taking your once daily medications with breakfast is a good start. Unless, of course, you need to take a medication on an empty stomach first thing in the morning. Then perhaps it’s best to start your routine with that medication in your med-box in plain view as you head for the coffee pot. Another trick is to place certain medications in key spots that you frequent at certain times of the day. For example, say I take my asthma inhaler first thing in the morning because it’s right where I have my shoes to put on before going out to get the paper. What I can do to remember to take it twice a day is to leave it there where all my change and wallet get dropped on my in from work. Simple! Lastly, buying an alarm wrist-watch is a simple way to have triggers in place throughout the day. After all, some people have to take medications up to 6 times a day!
Med-Box- A simple medication box can help by providing structure and the visual triggers to take your medications at certain times of day. However, it may not be that simple since we can be quite active and if that box is out of sight, it’s out of mind. It is not uncommon to have lower adherence when taking medications more than once a day. We also don’t want our medications to run our lives! We want then to help us and not tie up our time. After all, if I’m retired I don’t want a part-time job managing my medications! So what else can I do?
Technology- Argggh! The dreaded “T” word- Technology! Don’t sweat it because technology can be transparent, out of your way, and quite useful. It’s worth a try. There are several ways that technology can assist you in adhering to your medications yet not become invasive of your life. You can subscribe to several Internet reminder services that can send text messages to your cell phone, call you with an automated voice response that reminds you to take your medication, or go as far as to deliver your medications in an automated pill box. The choices are numerous and can be confusing. But we can help sort all that out.
Links: Here are some links related to each category of assistance.
Other options: Keep in mind, complex regimens can be simplified and one best way to do that is to work with a pharmacist to eliminate unnecessary medications and supplements, consolidate doses into long-acting forms, and change some times of the day you take medications. We have had good experience with eliminating several medications for each client while still attaining their goals and maintaining their health. It takes an expert to provide this service and we caution you to not go it alone.