Medication adherence occurs when patients take prescribed medicines in strict accordance with the directions of the prescriber. There are various reasons why people who need prescription medicine don’t comply with physicians’ directions, but patients age 65 and older comprise an exceptionally large population of patients who fail to take one or more medications as intended.
Medication Non-Adherence Among Seniors
According to a CVS Health report from late 2014, “[In] U.S. individuals 65 years old and older who use medications, researchers found that 51% take at least five different prescription drugs regularly, and one in four take between 10 and 19 pills each day. 57% of those polled admit that they forget to take their medications.” What can pharmacists do to combat these statistics and help seniors become medication adherent? Below are three strategies that can make a difference.
- Pharmacist Counseling
The CVS Health report referenced above states that pharmacist counseling “[has proven] highly effective in helping patients change their behavior.” Consequently, CVS “developed the infrastructure and systems to better support one-on-one personalized counseling in [CVS] retail pharmacies”. The infrastructure and systems are a comprehensive resource that allows CVS pharmacists “to interact with millions of patients and make significant improvements in adherence.”
The pharmacist counseling program CVS developed (a.k.a. Pharmacy Advisor) can serve as a model for independent and corporate pharmacies to develop a similar resource. Such a resource makes it easier for seniors to receive important information that improves medication adherence. Instead of making a doctor’s appointment and waiting days to receive crucial advice, patients can simply call their pharmacy or walk in and speak with their pharmacist.
- Special Medication Packaging
Conventional pill vials whose safety lids help prevent children from opening them can also prevent certain populations of seniors from opening them, as well, particularly populations that suffer from advanced arthritis in the hands, experience motor difficulties that result from a chronic condition such as Parkinson’s disease, or have a condition such as dementia that makes it difficult to remember how to perform basic tasks.
One way to circumnavigate deficiencies that make it physically difficult to access medication is to dispense medicine in blister packs, where each pill is contained in a plastic cell that has a foil backing through which pills can be accessed with minimal effort.
- Refill Reminders / Automatic Refills
According to a report from Pharmacy Satisfaction Digest, “Nearly one out of three pharmacy customers say they did not fill all their new prescriptions during the past year, and 27 percent indicate that they did not refill all of their prescriptions.” Of these customers, 84 percent cited forgetfulness as the main reason for not seeking refills on time.
Because many in the senior population experience forgetfulness as a symptom of a larger medical problem such as dementia, receiving refill reminders from their pharmacy or having the pharmacy automatically refill prescriptions and notify customers that prescriptions are ready is a simple measure that can have a positive effect on medication adherence.
Medication Packaging for Medication Adherence
At Drug Package, we don’t specialize in helping pharmacies create pharmacist counseling programs or perform refill reminders / automatic refills, but we do supply innovative medication packaging (e.g., various configurations of blister packaging) that can synchronize with these resources to help improve medication adherence among the senior population.
For more information about our packaging options that can help seniors remain medication compliant, please browse through our product catalogues, or call us today at (800) 325-6137. We look forward to supporting your pharmacy in support of medication compliance among its customers.