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Importance of monitoring medications

December 05, 2013
Q. My 82-year-old father lives alone and is doing pretty well overall. Lately, we’ve become aware he is not always taking the right medication dosage. He forgets some days and other days may be taking double the dose because he’s unsure if he took it. What are some options to make sure he takes the prescribed amount so we don’t have to worry?

A. Staying on medication for a long period of time requires some work, but a drug won’t be effective if it’s not administered properly. Noncompliance seems to be one of the biggest issues in healthcare today. According to a report by Harris Interactive, “roughly half of all prescriptions for drugs to be taken on an ongoing basis are either not completed or are never filled in the first place.” There can be many reasons for this and with the senior population, like your dad, factors can range from cognitive issues to depression to physical problems.

Sometimes people think they don’t need the medication because they don’t feel any results or think it’s doing any good. This is particularly true with blood pressure and cholesterol medication, but long term effects from not taking a prescribed dosage could be devastating.


Ask your dad’s pharmacist or doctor for clear, precise explanations and instructions regarding his medications. It can be helpful if you attend a doctor’s visit or or accompany him when he picks up the next refill.

Use a weekly pill organizer either you fill up or your father fills. Monitor this for compliance during the next visit.

Help your dad set a daily routine, link the medication with a meal or daily activity. Make sure this activity is appropriate. Some medications are not supposed to be taken with meals, etc.

Check into packaging aids. Several pharmacies use plastic daily-dosing containers or can package the pills in a daily sealed package.

Some pharmacies FAX reminder alerts to doctors when a patient fails to refill a prescription at the appropriate time.

As parents age, getting a helping hand can be a great peace of mind. Caregivers can help with medication monitoring, meal preparation, doctor visits, housekeeping and errands in addition to traditional caregiving like showering, incontinence, and assistance with mobility issues. Having a conversation to see how your dad is doing can be helpful for both of you. Knowing you care can be an effective tool in successful aging.

Brayton is a community relations manager at Senior Helpers, City of Grosse Pointe, providing companions and personal caregivers to seniors in the tri-county area. She can be reached at (313) 885-0600.

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