June 4, 2024

Medication Compliance and Healthy Independent Living

Medication Compliance & Healthy Independent Living

Healthy aging encompasses numerous factors, but medication compliance is one of the most critical. Ensuring older adults take their medications regularly, tracking and reporting the results of the medication taking, such as their blood pressure, to their provider, and keeping them on an effective dose will positively affect their ability to live a more independent life longer. However, medication compliance is not simply a matter of remembering to take medication. Many organizations singularly focus on this one issue. While essential, it is not the only factor necessary for medication compliance:

  1. Compliance – A patient’s ability to follow the provider’s instructions for taking the medication and monitoring side effects.
  2. Persistence – Continuing medication through various life circumstances such as when they are sick, on vacation or traveling, or any circumstance that interferes with completing medication to a prescribed end date.

Medication Compliance Challenges Among Older Adults

Everyone understands the factors above can be a challenge to independent senior living, as supported by the following studies:

  • Medication prescriptions never filled: 20% to 30%
  • Medication not continued as prescribed in about 50% of cases
  • According to NCOA research, 94.9% percent of adults age 60 and older have at least one condition, while 78.7% have two or more requiring medications
  • 78 percent of adults 50 and older who participated in an AARP 2021 survey said they took vitamins or supplements. Among adults 65 and older, the percentage shot up to 83%
  • NIH reports that 59% of people over the age of 50 take at least five prescription drugs to treat chronic conditions, with 22% engaging in 10 or more drugs prescribed at one time

Chronic Conditions Affect Healthy Senior Independent Living

Since many older adults have two or more chronic conditions that require regular medications, medication compliance complications will add to healthy aging issues for these people. There are various reasons people do not stay on their medications, including:

  • The priority of the condition the individual is dealing with, as they may not see it as crucial to continue the medication
  • The cost of medications
  • Uncertainty about whether the medication is effective, especially for conditions without noticeable symptoms
  • Fear of experiencing side effects
  • Fear of combining medications
  • Limited understanding of the medication or its regimen due to a lack of communication with the primary care physician, pharmacist, or both
  • Difficulty in accessing the pharmacy
  • Lack of motivation
  • Lack of self-confidence
  • Incomprehensible messaging on the packaging of the medications

Healthy Aging Programs Combat Medication Compliance Issues

Health coaching can effectively address these issues, but not all coaching programs are alike or have the same goals. Siloed condition management programs often focus on a single medication without considering the individual’s other medications they are on for their other conditions. Addressing this constellation of issues requires skilled nurses trained in and motivated to assist older adults in living independently longer. These nurses can and will ask the necessary questions to uncover the unique set of issues hindering proper compliance.

Often, compliance issues are part of a broader set of individual challenges that need to be tied to the person’s desire to live independently in their homes longer. Participants may not connect their goal of independent living with a medication compliance issue that could prevent them from achieving that goal. However, a skilled nurse who is trained in independent living and aging well and utilizes techniques like motivational interviewing can help participants understand this relationship and improve their compliance.

Learn More About Chronic-Illness Agnostic Coaching Programs

Medication compliance is one of many critical factors that help individuals live independently longer. Understanding how this issue fits with the goal of independent living and addressing the root causes of poor medication compliance can only be accomplished through a coaching program that is chronic-illness agnostic and focuses on helping participants achieve their true goal – living independently in their homes for as long as possible. HealthyLifetime’s healthy aging program is well-known and respected in the Midwest and nationally. Our training programs are backed by decades of experience and evidence-based research. Contact us to learn more about how our innovative program can help your organization.

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