Adhering to a Medication Plan can be difficult for many Seniors in Greater Calgary!
Whenever medications are prescribed to seniors to address specific health problems or symptoms, the ultimate overarching goal is always to introduce medications that will improve the overall quality of life that seniors experience each day, and to promote longer life for seniors despite medical challenges.
From an objective standpoint, it may seem as though managing and keeping on top of taking medications is a no-brainer, but there are factors that can come into play that discourage or make seniors unwilling to stick to their prescribed medication plans. Those involved in the care of seniors should familiarize themselves with the various features that may interfere with a senior’s willingness to adhere to their medications regimens, so that they can better understand the senior’s point of view, provide support in meaningful ways, and create a well-informed plan to move forward and encourage adherence to medication recommendations.
Understanding Possible Barriers
The diverse array of physical, cognitive, and logistical changes and challenges that seniors face as they age can contribute to the creation of distinct barriers preventing seniors from taking medications as directed. These barriers are practical and can often be overcome if caregiver support is put into place that helps seniors to better understand, manage, and stick to their medication plans. Additionally, there are also emotional or judgement-based factors that may lead seniors to deliberately oppose medical recommendations related to medications. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), these may include:
- Low Motivation
- Lack of Adequate Information
- Lack of Confidence in One’s Own Ability (Poor Self-Efficacy)
Opening A Discussion
It can be frustrating to deal with a senior loved one who is refusing to take medications that you know are intended to improve their health, but it is important to open a respectful conversation through which you can be attentive to their point of view while also ensuring that you provide them with all of the information pertinent to ensuring they can make education and effective decisions regarding their medication. The key is to approach the subject in a non-confrontational way to help identify barriers and work together to overcome them.
Discussing medications and associated directions together can create a productive opportunity to review the reasons for each medication and help dispel any worries or negative judgements that seniors may be holding on to that are acting to prevent them from adhering to their prescriptions. Some misconceptions or worries that seniors may have regarding their medication can include:
- Concerns About Stigma Attached to Medication
- Fear of Dependency on Medication
- Denial of Illness
- Judgements About Medication Effectiveness
- Worries About Side Effects
Opening a dialogue for seniors at home, with their caregivers, and with their medical professionals can help to shed light on the reasons for medications, and on the importance of adhering to recommendations and directions relating to medication regimens. Research has indicated that ensuring seniors are educated, informed, motivated, and supported is an effective strategy for encouraging medication adherence, and this can help contribute to the maintenance of better overall health for seniors.