Prescription For Confusion

Hands holding seven-day pill box.Taking medications at the proper time is a special problem for the elderly.

They take many more drugs than younger people do, many take seven or more a day.

Yet studies show that the more times a day you have to take a medication, the lower the chances of adhering to the proper schedule, says a story in the New York Times.

When patients can’t adhere to the plan, the consequences can be bad.

There are many reasons why the elderly often can’t comply with the proper medication plan.

Maybe they can’t afford the pills once they get into the Medicare Part D “donut hole.”

Or they may not even fill their prescription to begin with because it is not included in their plan’s formulary.

Sometimes they don’t take them on purpose because they don’t like the side effects.

But often it is because the schedules for taking each drug may vary and it gets confusing.

The article suggests a universal medication schedule. This means labels on pill bottles would set out four standard times — morning, noon, evening and bedtime — for taking drugs.

A study showed that patients who got such patient-centered labels made significantly fewer mistakes in taking their prescriptions. California actually has called for this type of labeling, though it is not required.

The story also suggests pills should be consistent in appearance. Generics, for example, can often have a different shape or color than the brand name drugs.

The story says there is a free program available through Medicare called Medication Therapy Management that will review prescriptions, doses, costs and other questions for older people who take multiple medications.

If you have questions about elder law, feel free to call us for a consultation at (626) 696-3145.

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